The European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), which EU countries use to exchange information on the criminal convictions of EU citizens, should be extended to include non-EU nationals, Civil Liberties Committee MEPs said on Monday. MEPs also want the system to be used to check the criminal records of people seeking to work with children.
The committee backed an EU Commission proposal to expand the ECRIS system to include information, of non-EU citizens by 45 votes to 2, with 4 abstentions. The new directive is a key measure under the European Agenda on Security and an important tool for fighting cross-border crime and terrorism.
“We need to restore public confidence that we are able to monitor who comes into the EU, and to find people who could represent a threat. Checking people against our existing criminal records databases, and making exchanging that information much easier, will go a long way towards showing that we can find those people who mean us harm, amongst the vast majority who do not", said Parliament's lead MEP on the file Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK).following the vote.
MEPs also stress that member states should be able to use the ECRIS system to pass on information relating to terrorist offences or serious crime received bilaterally from a third country. Furthermore, they want the EU’s police cooperation agency Europol and border agency Frontex to be able to access the database, upon request and case by case, to perform their tasks.
Checks on people applying to work with kids
Employers should also be able to request information about a person's criminal convictions or any disqualifications arising from those convictions when recruiting him or her to a role involving "direct and regular contacts with children", MEPs say. They add that member states should endeavour to provide similar safeguards with regard to persons who intend to work with disabled or elderly persons.
After the vote on the draft report, the committee gave the rapporteur a mandate to start three-way talks with member states and Commission.