The EU is introducing new rules to improve the way member states exchange information on convictions of third country nationals. The reformed European criminal records information system (ECRIS) will now include a centralised database with information on convictions of third country nationals and stateless persons (so-called ECRIS-TCN).
The Council formally has adopted recently the ECRIS package consisting of a regulation and a directive. This marks the end of the legislative process.
The regulation lays down the rules for the creation of the centralised system and specifies the data to be included and the rights of access. The centralised system will include necessary data to identify a person and will cover information relating to third country nationals but also dual EU/third country nationals. The information on the conviction itself can still only be obtained from the convicting member state.
The regulation also sets out the division of responsibilities between the member states and eu-LISA, the agency which is tasked with developing and operating the system.
This formal votes marks the end of the legislative process. The regulation and the directive will now be formally signed and then published in the official journal.
As indicated in the regulation, it will be to the Commission to define the date from which the ECRIS-TCN system will be operational once initial preparations by member states and eu-LISA have been completed.
The ECRIS “package” is composed of a regulation, which establishes a centralised system to identify the member state(s) which may hold conviction information on a third country national, and a directive, which amends the existing framework decision on ECRIS in light of this new centralised system for information on third country nationals.
ECRIS was established in 2012. It enables the efficient exchange of information between member states regarding criminal convictions in the EU. At the moment, most of the information exchanged is on EU citizens, and the system works on a decentralised basis with each member state storing information on their nationals. Although it is already possible to exchange information on third-country nationals through ECRIS, there is currently no common European procedure or mechanism in place to do so effectively.
Under the current rules, information on convictions of third country nationals within the EU is not compiled in the member state of nationality, as it is for EU nationals, but only stored in the member state where the convictions have been handed down. A complete overview of the criminal history of a third country national can therefore only be obtained by sending a request to all member states.
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