EU Parliament agrees to EU-US PNR Agreement

By EDRi · April 25, 2012

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Deutsch: [Europäisches Parlament stimmt PNR-Abkommen mit den USA zu |]

On 19 April 2012, MEPs decided on the controversial EU-US Agreement on
the use and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to the US
Department of Homeland Security. A motion for a resolution asking for an
opinion from the Court of Justice was rejected and the adoption of
Agreement was accepted (409 votes in favour, 226 against and 33

A significant minority of MEPs voted against the deal arguing that the
data protection safeguards
foreseen in the Agreement do not meet EU standards, that the current
proposal has not addressed any of the demands and flaws identified by
the European Parliament and that the criteria set in its Resolutions are
not met. On the other hand, a majority of ECR (conservative), EPP
(conservative) and many S&D (Socialists and Democrats) members argued
that it was better to have an Agreement, albeit not entirely
satisfactory, than to have no Agreement at all. On this basis, they were
prepared to back down from the minimum standards that the Parliament had
previously demanded.

The Parliament agreed to the transfer of passengers’ flight data to the
USA where they are processed and stored for 15 years, abandoning a
9-year long fight for better privacy protections for EU citizens with
almost nothing to show for its efforts. In May 2010, the Parliament had
initially postponed its vote on an Agreement with the US (applied
provisionally since 2007) and raised serious concerns about the general
approach to transfers of PNR data to third countries. By taking the
decision to back the Agreement, MEPs ignored their own resolutions of
May and November 2010 and opinions from the European Data Protection
Supervisor, the Article 29 Working Party of national data protection
agencies and numerous civil rights groups.

Commissioner Malmström said the new Agreement represented a substantial
improvement on the existing Agreement from 2007, providing stronger
protection for the right to citizens’ privacy – since data will be
”masked out” (i.e. they will remain personally identifiable, but only
after being “unmasked”. “Masking” is not defined) six months after a
passengers’ flight and EU citizens will be informed about the use of
their data, they will be able to request access and request the
correction or deletion of their PNR data. EU citizens will, however,
have no way of enforcing this right.

Rapporteur Sophie in ‘t Veld (ALDE, NL) withdrew her name from the
report, asserting: “The decision of the European Parliament does not
reflect my recommendation. Therefore I choose to distance myself from
it. It is disappointing that after nine years negotiating with our
closest friends and allies, the US, we only got an agreement that gets
reluctant support from a divided House”. Justice and Home Affairs
Ministers will formally approve the Agreement on 26 April. The deal will
replace the 2007 text and will apply for seven years.

European Parliament resolution on PNR (5.05.2010)

European Parliament resolution on PNR (11.11.2010)

EDRi opinion (2012)

EDPS opinion (9.12.2011)

Article 29 opinion (6.01.2012)

Friends of Privacy US – Legal Analysis (01.2012)

(Contribution by Kirsten Fiedler – EDRi)