MEPs debate plans to use EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to fight terrorism
Committee : Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
A draft law that would oblige airlines to hand EU countries the data of passengers entering or leaving the EU, in order to help fight serious crime and terrorism, was discussed in the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. MEPs were still divided on the issue, but most stressed the need to assess the European Court of Justice ruling annulling the data retention directive, to assess whether existing measures suffice before taking new ones and to put in place adequate data protection safeguards.
The video recording of the debate will soon be available here (click on 11 November, from 11.30 onwards). and read tweets on @EP_Justice. Hashtag: #EUPNR
"We must put in place our own EU rules and standards (...) as soon as possible" to prevent criminals exploiting gaps in the EU, said Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur, Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK).
At the end of the debate, Mr Kirkhope announced that he would invite the shadow rapporteurs from the various political groups to a meeting to discuss the next steps. Threats to EU security are much greater than they were one year ago [when the Civil Liberties Committee rejected the Commission proposal], he stressed, adding that he would persist with work on the EU PNR.
The EU PNR proposal, presented by the Commission in February 2011, would oblige air carriers to provide EU countries with the data of passengers entering or leaving the EU for use in preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting serious crime and terrorist offences.
The draft directive was rejected by the Civil Liberties Committee in April 2013 by 30 votes to 25. MEPs voting against questioned the necessity and proportionality of the proposed EU scheme to collect airline passengers' data, while those voting in favour highlighted its potential added value for EU counter-terrorism policy. In June 2013, Parliament decided in plenary session to refer the matter back to the Civil Liberties Committee.
Debate on the proposal has gained momentum due to concerns over possible threats to the EU's internal security posed by Europeans returning home after fighting for the so-called “Islamic State”. On 30 August 2014, the European Council called on Parliament and Council to finalise work on the EU PNR proposal before the end of the year.
PNR data is information provided by passengers and collected by air carriers during reservation and check-in procedures. It contains several different types of information, such as travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, and means of payment used.
In the chair: Claude Moraes (S&D, UK)