European Union nations Tuesday agreed to share national police databases containing fingerprints, DNA samples and license plate information to speed up criminal investigations.

"This provides us with a very important source of information," German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters after EU justice and interior ministers gave final approval to the German initiative to cut red tape on cross-border police cooperation.

He said the measures and automated sharing of national databases were already online between Germany, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Luxembourg.

Other nations would be joining the network in the next months, officials said.

The new EU measures will allow police direct access to genetic records, fingerprints and traffic offenses in the other nations' databases, doing away with time-costly data request applications.

Several nations, including Britain, expressed worries over the cost of connecting national databases. EU officials said the price of linking networks was minimal.

EU data protection officials and the European Parliament also demanded the measures apply better privacy and data protection provisions, something the EU ministers agreed to work out in the months ahead.