EU PNR: lead MEP optimistic on prospects of a deal meeting Parliament's concerns 

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Civil Liberties Committee MEP Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK), who is leading three-way talks with the Council and Commission on the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal on the use of air passengers' data to fight terrorism and serious transnational crime, briefed the committee on their progress on Tuesday. The rapporteur who listed the key issues in the ongoing negotiations, was optimistic that a deal addressing Parliament’s concerns could be struck by the end of this year.

The EU PNR proposal would oblige airlines to hand their passengers’ data to EU countries in order to help the authorities to fight terrorism and serious transnational crime.

Mr Kirkhope noted that four “trilogues” (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators) have now taken place. The fifth one is scheduled for 2 December, and the sixth for 15 December.

He went on to say that progress had been made on key issues and praised the "good cooperation between the political groups" in Parliament. "I am quite determined to reach an agreement that the majority can support", he added.

On the question of which flights are to be included in the scope of the EU PNR directive, Mr Kirkhope recalled that member states would like to have "intra-EU flights" included. If these are not covered by the directive, member states will "give up any harmonised EU system and will go on with their own national PNR systems", he said.

On the data retention period, Mr Kirkhope recalled the "considerable divergence" in the positions of the three institutions (the Council had asked that data be retained for five years before being "masked out", whereas the committee's mandate said 30 days). Negotiations on this are still under way.

The list of offences covered, the provisions on non-carrier economic operators inserted by the committee, the information sharing advocated by MEPs and the relationship between the EU PNR and the data protection package were among other issues mentioned by the rapporteur.

"Something I am not compromising on is a full review mechanism (...) in order to ensure that the legislation works and is effective", he said.

You can watch the video recording of the debate here (click on 1 December 2015 - soon available)