The EU’s asylum database with the fingerprints of all registered asylum seekers is reaching its capacity limit. The EU-LISA agency responsible for organizing the central system has warned that maximum usage could be reached as early as the end of 2023.
There are now seven million fingerprint entries stored in the system. In 2021 there were still 5.8 million migrants who had left their fingerprints in the huge file. The following year there were already 6.5 million people. Additionally, queries to the system have increased by 73 percent compared to 2021.
67 percent of all transactions – that is, storages and queries in the Eurodaq system – occur in Germany, Italy, France, Austria and Spain.
Now the system is reaching its limits. A few years ago, entries fell as a result of Brexit and then due to the Corona crisis. But meanwhile they are going up again. The war in Ukraine led to additional growth. Following the invasion of Ukraine daily Eurodaq traffic increased from approximately 3,000 stores and queries in January to 5,000 in March, and even briefly reached a peak of 9,500 transactions. However, since the EU Directive on Temporary Protection of Ukrainians was adopted in March 2022, protection seekers from Ukraine are no longer registered as asylum seekers in Eurodac.
In view of the refugee crisis, the EU Commission proposed changes to Eurodac in 2016. Children aged six years and above will also have to provide their fingerprints. In addition, more personal data of asylum seekers should be stored, including facial images. But due to lack of agreement the reforms could not take off. A revised proposal followed in 2020 in which EurodAC would be merged with four other EU databases. But negotiations between EU states and Parliament on this new Eurodac proposal are also stalling.
At least some of the older software and hardware was replaced last year. The storage capacity of the system is to be expanded to nine million data records. The “throughput capacity” is to be increased to 24,000 daily transactions.
Since 2015, police officers have also been allowed to use the Eurodac system for law enforcement and security purposes – for example against terrorism and other serious crimes. In 2022, 1491 of these questions were registered, which is double that of the previous year. 98 percent (!) of these searches came from police officers in Germany, and the majority of them were conducted by the Bavarian State Criminal Police Office. Mostly it was research to solve unsolved murders.
23 years have passed since the EU states decided to create the so-called Eurodac file. All fingerprints of asylum seekers are to be stored in it. Three years later, the “Database for Asylum Dactyloscopy” came into operation. In addition to the European Union area, the Schengen states also include Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.
From then on, wherever migrants first register and apply for asylum, they leave their fingerprints. (According to the Dublin Convention, the states in which protection seekers first arrive are actually responsible, not the ones in which they are first registered. But that’s a different chapter.)