National courts often pass sentences on the basis of past convictions an offender has in their national register. They do not take into account convictions in other EU countries. As a result, offenders could possibly escape conviction by moving to another EU country.
Connecting national criminal record databases
The European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) was established in April 2012 in order to improve the exchange of information on criminal records throughout the EU. All EU countries are currently connected to ECRIS.
The ECRIS database
- ensures that information on convictions is exchanged between EU countries in a uniform, fast and compatible way
- provides judges and prosecutors with easy access to comprehensive information on the criminal history of persons concerned, including in which EU countries that person has previously been convicted
- removes the possibility for offenders to escape convictions by moving from 1 EU country to another
On 28 June 2017, the European Commission published its first report on the use of ECRIS by EU countries.
Information on non-EU criminals
ECRIS works to obtain information on EU nationals. However, it is currently not possible to find information on non-EU nationals' previous convictions. To obtain this information, the respective EU countries have to be contacted one by one.
Decentralised ECRIS-TCN system
The new European Criminal Records Information System on Third Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN) decentralised system would enable authorities to identify EU countries' convictions of a non-EU national. Any EU country can then request this information through ECRIS.
Centralised system: avoiding technical problems
After the new rules on non-EU nationals' convictions were presented in 2016, it became clear that the decentralised system would bring technical problems for the exchange of certain fingerprint samples. These problems could be avoided in a centralised system.
Therefore, the European Commission presented a regulation in June 2017 for a centralised ECRIS-TCN system that will be operated by the EU Agency for large- scale IT-systems (EU-LISA).
The 2016 procedure remains unchanged for decentralised exchanges of full conviction information on non-EU nationals, after the convicting EU country has been identified through the ECRIS-TCN system.