PNR data deal signed by European Commission

By EDRi · June 2, 2004

An international agreement was signed on 28 May between the European Union and the United States that makes it possible to transfer air passenger data to the US, under certain conditions. It entered into force immediately. This agreement goes hand-in-hand with the Decision adopted two weeks ago by the European Commission, establishing the adequacy of US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection’s personal data protection.

Under the agreement, Washington is allowed to collect 34 types of data from passengers’ records flying to the US, which include name, address, phone number, credit cards and the identity of their travelling companions.

Since March 2003, airlines have faced the possibility of fines of 6,000 euro per passenger as well as potential loss of landing rights in the US if they failed to provide US security agencies with the data 15 minutes before the flight’s departure. Carriers such as British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France already started sharing data with the US before the decision.

The agreement completely ignores the European parliament and is closed at a time in which the members of the European parliament are absorbed by the upcoming European elections.
Several MEPs such as Marco Cappato and Johanna Boogerd-Quaak have urged the President of the parliament, Pat Cox, to take this matter to the European Court of Justice. Cappato writes in an open letter: “The Commission and the Council have exploited the fact that the EP has suspended its activities because of the electoral period, hereby breaching the principle of loyal co-operation among institutions. I believe the EP President has the duty to immediately take measures to defend the prerogatives and the rights of the institution he chairs, of its members and of EU citizens.” Not taking action would ‘seriously put the credibility of our institution into question’, according to Cappato.

Group leaders of the European Parliament will meet on 16 June to discuss reactions to the Council’s and the Commission’s bluntly ignoring several votes of the Parliament against the transfer of PNR data to the U.S.

EU press release (28.05.2004)

Council decision on the agreement (17.05.2004)

Commission Decision of 14 May on the adequate protection of personal data contained in the Passenger Name Record of air passengers transferred to the United States’ Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
Letter Cappato (Radical MEP) (27.05.2004)

EU Parliament considers steps (27.05.2004)