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Brussels, 25 September 2009

EU's biometric database continues to ensure effective management of the Common European Asylum System

The 2008 annual report on the activities of EURODAC (the EU wide biometric tool which helps determine which Member State is responsible for examining an asylum claim), was published today by the Commission. The report gives essential information on patterns of asylum seeking and illegal entry in the EU, and shows a sharp increase in the number of persons apprehended in connection with irregular crossing of the EU external border. The figure for 'multiple applications' – asylum claims where the same person has already made an application in the same country or in another Member State – remains stable: 17,5% of the asylum applications in 2008 were subsequent asylum applications.

"EURODAC is an essential part of the EU's Common European Asylum System" stated Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security. "The report published today shows the effective contribution of this EU-wide fingerprint database in managing asylum applications, by helping to establish which Member State should examine each of them through the storage and comparison of the fingerprints of asylum seekers and illegal entrants and preventing "asylum shopping"".

The EURODAC Central Unit which manages the central system was operational for 99.84% of the reporting period, operating 24/24 hours and 7/7 days. It continued to provide very satisfactory results in terms of speed, output, security and cost-effectiveness.

In 2008, EURODAC processed 219.557 sets of fingerprints of asylum seekers, 61.945 sets of fingerprints of people crossing the borders irregularly and 75.919 sets of fingerprints of people apprehended while illegally staying on the territory of a Member State.

Figures show that in 2008, the number of registered asylum applications rose by 11,3%, which means that the increasing trend which started the previous year continued. At the same time, the number of registered irregular entrants increased by 62,3%. The number of searches in the database on the basis of fingerprints of third country nationals found illegally on the territory of the Member States increased by 17,6%, amounting to 75.919 such searches.

17,5% of the asylum applications in 2008 were subsequent (i.e. second or more) asylum applications. This figure is in line with what was observed in previous years. However, the figure includes not only the instances in which persons applied for asylum more than once, but also a number of instances in which the fingerprints of an asylum seeker are recorded both by the Member State in which he applied for asylum and in the Member State ultimately deemed responsible for consideration of the asylum claim. This distortion is proposed to be remedied by the Commission's proposal to amend the EURODAC Regulation, adopted in December 2008.

Some concerns remain about delays in the transmission of data to the EURODAC Central Unit. By sending data late to the system, the determination of the Member State responsible for the assessment of an asylum claim can be inaccurate. The Commission's proposal sets out to remedy this concern by setting clearer deadlines for transmission of data.

For more information on the activities of Vice‑President Barrot, please visit his website at

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