Police cooperation (Prüm decisions)
The Prüm decisions – European Council decisions 2008/615/JHA and 2008/616/JHA on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime – contain the following elements:
- The centrepiece of Prüm is the automatic exchange of DNA and fingerprint data to identify criminals. The system of exchange between national databases compares this data to find out whether there are matching data sets ('hits') or not. This hit/no-hit method does not involve the exchange of personal data; it only searches for hits in other countries' databases. When a hit is found, the exchange of personal data can be requested by means of the usual legal or administrative assistance proceedings.
- Prüm also provides for measures to deepen cross-border police cooperation, which concerns in particular joint patrols and investigation procedures, as well as the exchange of data on vehicle registration plates and holders. Data and information may also be transmitted during major events and in order to prevent acts of terrorism.
Prüm's data protection provisions are equivalent to those applicable in Switzerland.
Enhanced police cooperation in Europe: Origin and content of the Prüm decisions
The Prüm Treaty is the foundation of deeper international police cooperation between EU Member States. It is an intergovernmental treaty that seven EU Member States signed in the town of Prüm in Rhineland-Palatinate in 2005. Its core components were incorporated into the EU's legal framework in 2008 and have since been binding for all EU Member States. In addition to the EU Member States, Norway and Iceland also participate in the Prüm cooperation. Core elements of Prüm cooperation are the facilitated exchange of DNA profiles, fingerprints, and vehicle (owner) data. This is an area in which the need is especially great for procedures that enable the rapid exchange of such data. This exchange of information is the key part of the Prüm decisions to step up cross-border cooperation within the EU. It enables checks to be carried out within the shortest possible time to establish whether data on any person or item is stored in the database of another Prüm state.
Participation in the Prüm cooperation: advantages for Switzerland
Prüm saves Swiss law enforcement authorities a great deal of time and allows them to identify suspects and evidence more efficiently. Prüm cooperation also enables fast and simplified access to fingerprints and DNA profiles stored in the databases of other Prüm states. This added value benefits in particular cantonal police forces, providing them with an instrument that creates new opportunities to combat crime effectively. Moreover, the participation in Prüm is a necessary condition for the Swiss law enforcement authorities to have access to the data stored in the Eurodoc database. Finally, taking part in Prüm cooperation allows Switzerland to avoid being excluded from data exchanges that occur within the Prüm framework. Prüm cooperation has become an indispensable tool for the police forces of Switzerland's key partner countries.
Prüm cooperation does not constitute a development of the Schengen acquis. In order to participate in Prüm, Switzerland therefore had to conclude a corresponding agreement with the EU, as Norway and Iceland had done in 2009. In 2018, Switzerland and the EU concluded negotiations on Swiss participation. After the agreement was signed and ratified, it entered into force on 1 March 2023.
- The Prüm agreement enters into force (01.03.2023)
- Switzerland ratifies the Prüm agreement (28.04.2022)
- The Prüm agreement is signed (27.06.2019)
- The negotiations start (11.05.2017)
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