Criminal law enforcement goes EU-wide

The Commission has put forward proposals to allow information on potential criminals is to be made available across state borders.

By what Commissioner Frattini is calling “an entire new concept”, the principle of availability, information held by police and judicial authorities in one member state is to be made accessible by all such bodies EU-wide, as necessary. 

In the Commission’s view, crime in Europe increasingly admits of no geographical borders and criminal enforcement must therefore follow suit. The framework decision will oblige member states to make available names, addresses, phone numbers, fingerprints, DNA and vehicle registrations. Such details will be exchanged either online or in specific instances following an ‘information demand’ from one state to another.

Rules on the bodies allowed access, under what conditions and procedures for judicial authorisation will be set up. The increased access to personal data entailed is meant to be balanced by the increased data protection provisions recently proposed (see EURACTIV 5 October 2005).

At the same time, the Commission adopted a communication aimed at enhancing external co-operation in the freedom, justice and security arena. This raises issues of working with non-EU countries to enhance human rights, judicial co-operation and good governance as well as formulating compatible migration and asylum policies.

These two initiatives arise from the 2004 Hague Programme. Although they are general in nature, both measures, but particularly the availability principle, have undoubtedly been pushed forward by the drive to act against perceived terrorist threats.

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