EU Parliament ditches PNR transfer for the third time

By EDRi · May 5, 2004

A last effort of the EU Council to reach agreement with the European Parliament about the transfer of airliner passenger’s personal data (Passenger Name Record; PNR) to the U.S. failed on Tuesday 4 May. With a 343 to 301 majority, Parliament decided not to vote on the Council’s proposal to treat the matter as an ‘urgency procedure’. Having lost already two votes in the Parliament on the transfer, the Council had hoped it could make use of the singular historic situation where 162 non-elected observers to the Parliament from the new member states had gained member status for one single session, extending the plenary session to 788 members.

By bringing forward the urgency request, the Council tried to turn over the former votes. They hoped they could convince the presumedly inexperienced MEPs from the new member states that the transfer was necessary to ensure transatlantic travel, and that it was protected by sufficient safeguards.

However, it turned out the new MEPs did not have significantly different views from the 625 MEPs that sat in parliament before 1 May 2004. There was even a small shift to the transfer-critical side, compared to the vote on 21 April on the decision to take the EU Commission to the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg, in order to get a ruling on the transfer.

Still, it must be recalled that the EU does presently grant the U.S. access to PNR data on what is most likely an illegal basis. It is now expected that the Council will go for yet another vote in September or October in the next European Parliament. Polls say that the Conservative PPE/DE, who is in favour of the PNR transfer, will then be even stronger than is now the case.

Statewatch: EP rejects EU-US PNR deal by an even bigger majority (04.05.2004)

Edward Hasbrouck: No means no (…) (04.05.2004)

EUpolitix: MEPs reject new vote on EU-US air data deal (04.05.2004)

(Contribution by Andreas Dietl, EDRI EU affairs director