The proposed EU passenger name records (PNR) directive: Revived in the new security context

30-04-2015

After the Paris attacks of January 2015, the fight against terrorism and the phenomenon of foreign fighters is now higher than ever on the EU agenda, with a series of new measures being discussed, and existing ones refocused. In this context, the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal is once again in the spotlight. The current proposal dates back to 2011, but was rejected by the European Parliament's LIBE Committee in April 2013. However, given the new security context, and following numerous calls from EU Member States, the European Parliament committed to work towards the finalisation of an EU PNR directive by the end of 2015. Nevertheless, not everybody is convinced by the efficacy of the proposed measure, and many stakeholders question its necessity and proportionality, whilst highlighting the different fundamental-rights risks inherent in any PNR scheme. It is also argued that legislators should take into account the impact of the recent annulment of the Data Retention Directive by the Court of Justice of the EU. Privacy and civil liberties activists warn against the measure's intrusive nature, and see it as another step on the road to a surveillance society. On the other hand, air carriers advocate swift adoption of an EU PNR directive, providing harmonised legislation at EU level, rather than a set of diverging national rules. Indeed, more and more Member States are developing PNR data-collection systems, and the European Commission has made EU funding available for this purpose.

After the Paris attacks of January 2015, the fight against terrorism and the phenomenon of foreign fighters is now higher than ever on the EU agenda, with a series of new measures being discussed, and existing ones refocused. In this context, the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal is once again in the spotlight. The current proposal dates back to 2011, but was rejected by the European Parliament's LIBE Committee in April 2013. However, given the new security context, and following numerous calls from EU Member States, the European Parliament committed to work towards the finalisation of an EU PNR directive by the end of 2015. Nevertheless, not everybody is convinced by the efficacy of the proposed measure, and many stakeholders question its necessity and proportionality, whilst highlighting the different fundamental-rights risks inherent in any PNR scheme. It is also argued that legislators should take into account the impact of the recent annulment of the Data Retention Directive by the Court of Justice of the EU. Privacy and civil liberties activists warn against the measure's intrusive nature, and see it as another step on the road to a surveillance society. On the other hand, air carriers advocate swift adoption of an EU PNR directive, providing harmonised legislation at EU level, rather than a set of diverging national rules. Indeed, more and more Member States are developing PNR data-collection systems, and the European Commission has made EU funding available for this purpose.