European Union justice ministers are meeting this week in Dresden, Germany, to discuss a package of measures that could give police and other security forces in the region unprecedented access to a range of individuals' personal data.
The measures, known as the Treaty of Plum after the German town where the accord was signed by several EU member states in 2005, would allow police and other security agencies in different countries to search each other's databases for DNA records, fingerprints, vehicle registrations and other personal information.
During its EU presidency, which began this month, Germany hopes to muster enough support to turn the private Treaty of Plum into EU law.
The treaty was initially signed by Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Luxemburg, Netherlands and Spain. Four other member states - Finland, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia - have since signalled their intention to join.
Support for the security measure has grown as EU member states worry about their national security being increasingly threatened by international terrorism, organised crime and illegal immigration.
Since December, Austrian and German police have been providing access to DNA records stored in their databases. Under a ‘hit/no hit’ process, police can run searches on suspected individuals and retrieve information within minutes, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior said.
As part of its security programme during the EU presidency, Germany is also calling for closer collaboration in monitoring and analysing websites used by terrorist organisations and better protection for critical infrastructure, such as power grids and gas lines, against a terrorist attack.