(Source: European Commission)
The Commission has decided today to refer Italy to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failure to comply with all information exchange requirements set in the EU rules on cross-border cooperation in combating terrorism and cross-border crime (‘Prüm Decisions’, Council Decisions 2008/615/JHA and 2008/616/JHA).
The rules on cross-border cooperation are a key instrument in the fight against terrorism and crime. They allow Member States to quickly exchange information on DNA, fingerprints and national vehicle registration data, enabling law enforcement authorities to identify suspects and make links between criminal cases throughout the Union.
Member States had to fully implement the rules by August 2011. The Commission launched infringement procedures by sending a letter of formal notice to Italy, and followed up in 2017 with a reasoned opinion, urging Italy to fully comply with its legal obligations. Despite repeated enquiries into Italy’s progress in implementing its obligations, to this date, Italy still does not allow other Member States access to its DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data.
For those reasons, the Commission decided to refer these cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The Prüm Decisions are an important element of the EU Security Union Strategy. They aim to support and step up cross-border cooperation between law enforcement authorities, through rules for operational police cooperation as well as through exchange of information between authorities responsible for the prevention and investigation of criminal offences.
Thanks to the Prüm Decisions, law enforcement authorities in one Member State can find out if relevant information on DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registration data is available in other Member States’ databases, which helps them in their investigations.
This is done via a decentralised system of bilateral connections between Member States, allowing investigators to search and compare the abovementioned data across borders. The system provides a ‘hit/no hit’ access to Member States’ DNA analysis files, fingerprint data and vehicle registration data, which means that there is no direct access to personal and case related information. After a ‘hit’ is confirmed, with matching data sets verified by a forensic expert, national authorities need to send a request to the Member State in question before they can receive any further personal data. In case of vehicle registration data, the additional data is provided immediately with a hit.
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