EU PNR directive gets funding before being adopted

By EDRi · January 16, 2013

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Deutsch: [EU PNR-Richtlinie zur Fluggastüberwachung: Erst finanzieren, dann verabschieden |]

The European Parliament (EP) Civil Liberties Committee is to vote, by
the end of January 2013, on the controversial EU-Passenger Name Record
(PNR) directive proposal introduced in February 2011 that has already
been examined by the three EP committees. However, the European
Commission has already issued a Call for Proposals to fund with 50
million Euro for setting up national units for the collection,
processing, analysis and exchange of passenger name record data.

The directive would require the establishment within the EU Member
States of systems to collect, store and process large amounts of
personal data from people flying into (and possibly within) Europe, with
the stated purpose of preventing, detecting, investigating and
prosecuting terrorist offences and serious crime.

Further on, the Council will discuss “certain issues” in the proposal at
its meeting in Luxembourg in June. The system will enter into force
once the Council and the EP reach an agreement.

The proposal has been fiercely opposed and criticized as having no legal
basis and as being ineffective for its declared purpose, while affecting
the privacy and liberties of the citizens. And yet, the Commission is
pushing it further and is making 50 million Euro available for the
establishment of Passenger Information Units (PIUs) in the Member
States. The units, beside collecting, processing, analysing,
and exchanging PNR data, should also “be able to carry out risk
assessment of passengers on the basis of the PNR data held in the
database mentioned under point 3 prior to their arrival or departure
either on the basis of criteria or by comparing the data against
relevant databases.”

One of the expected results of the project is the “establishment of a
database capable of gradually reducing the access to the data, for
example by depersonalising the data through masking out the personal
identifiable information.” On 9 January 2013, the Commission launched a
call for proposals for projects to establish such PIUs in the Member
State with 90% of the costs covered from the EU Prevention of and Fight
against Crime fund.

Although the “running costs of any system set up further to EU
legislation, in principle have to be borne by the Member States,” the
Commission said it was “willing to use existing financial funds to
support Member States in the establishment of the passenger information
units.” Only a minimum of 10% of the total eligible costs are to be
provided by the applicant or one of its partners.

The deadline for Member States’ applications for financial assistance
for PIUs is 10 April 2013, the winning proposals to be decided by the
end of September. “The projects are expected to commence shortly after
the award of a grant, at the latest 1 January 2014,” says the Commission

And this entire process is developed although the EU PNR directive is
still under discussion showing a clear willingness of the Commission to
pass the draft directive no matter what.

Commission makes €50 million available for the development of “big
brother” PNR databases – before legislation has even been agreed

Prevention of and fight against crime 2007-2013 – Action Grants 2012 –
Targeted Call for Proposals