Information Exchange

With a view to strengthening security, the European Union has started to promote the so-called principle of availability. This is a faster and simpler way of exchanging information between law enforcement authorities of individual EU Member States.

The principle of availability was launched in 2006 with the adoption of a framework decision on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union (the deadline for implementation will expire at the end of 2008).

In order to prevent criminal offences, carry out criminal investigation and ensure public safety, the EU also manages several European information systems, such as the SIS (Schengen Information System), VIS (Visa Information System, due to be put into full operation in 2009) and EURODAC (the fingerprint database of asylum seekers). Another means of sharing and analysing information relating to the fight against organised crime is the information system run by the European Police Office (Europol).

A significant element in the exchange of information is the Prüm Treaty, under which three selected sets of data are shared (DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registration). In this context, a decision was taken in 2008 to reinforce cross-border cooperation, especially in the struggle against terrorism and cross-border crime.

Member States are well aware that the increasingly intensive exchange of sensitive data requires adoption of clear rules on the protection of such information. In 2007 the EU Council agreed on a draft framework decision on the protection of personal data. In this respect, maintaining a balance between the three fundamental rights of EU citizens – the right to freedom of movement, the right to security and the right to privacy – is becoming one of the basic challenges for the European cooperation on efforts to strengthen the common area of freedom, security and justice.

An important task in the future will be to enhance the coordination and the systematic nature of the procedure, in line with the further development of information technology, in order to ensure a genuinely efficient exchange of information.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:02

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