A provisional deal on EU rules regulating the use of air passengers' data to fight terrorism and serious crime came within sight at the fifth "trilogue” (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators) on Wednesday afternoon.
Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee lead negotiator on the EU PNR proposal, Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK), has asked Coreper (committee of EU member states’ permanent representatives) to move closer to the Parliament's position on the maximum time that unmasked data can be stored. The Council is asking for nine months, whilst Mr Kirkhope believes that a maximum of six months would be more proportionate.
Mr Kirkhope said:
"I am working to ensure the Parliament can get the best possible deal. Of course both sides are having to compromise, but I believe nine months is too long for unmasked data to be kept. If the Council can move on this point then I believe we will have an agreement that I can present to the Civil Liberties Committee for approval.
"I still believe that an EU PNR system with robust protections for personal data is far preferable to 28 EU PNR systems and a patchwork of regimes. We are almost there on a deal, and I hope the Council will take the offer on the table."
Coreper is expected to discuss the request this evening. If it accepts, the Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee is expected to vote in the coming week. The draft directive will then be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole in early 2016 and formally approved by the EU Council of Ministers.
Member states will have to transpose the EU PNR directive into their national laws at the latest two years after its entry into force.
The UK and Ireland have opted in to this directive, while Denmark has a "blanket" opt-out for justice and home affairs legislation.
Note to editors
Depersonalising data through "masking out" means rendering certain data elements of such data invisible to a user, such as name(s), including the names of other passengers on PNR and number of travellers on PNR travelling together, address and contact information, etc.