European institutions try to impose a stronger position in the PNR debate
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The European Parliament intends to strengthen its opposition to the US
demands related to the transfer of European air passenger data (PNR).
Following the debate that took place on 31 January 2007 in the European
Parliament, the vote on the position that EU should have concerning the new
PNR agreement to be signed with USA on 31 July 2007 was delayed.
The end of the temporary agreement with the US gets closer and the US
maintain their threat to fine non-compliant airlines and deny them the
landing rights in the US. The American authorities already indicated that
they had no intention of changing the terms of the agreement to a better
data protection and privacy standards.
The Commission and the Council of Ministers have come to join the EP in its
position to this matter and they are very likely to ask for a shorter list
of data categories and the limitation of the access to these data only to US
Very strong positions were expressed during the session by Guenther Gloser,
Germany’s deputy foreign minister and the European commissioner in charge of
justice and home affairs issues, Franco Frattini.
“There is therefore the need to negotiate a very solid and stable legal
framework which will enable the exchange of PNR data with the United States
with full respect of data protection and privacy rights.” said Frattini.
He expressed his concern related to the U.S. Automated Targeting System,
system by means of which millions of people have been assessed since 2002,
information made public only recently. The system is considered illegal even
in US by the Congress and some privacy advocates.
The Commissioner also added: “I have said on a number of occasions that the
right to privacy is for me non-negotiable. It has to be respected, fully and
completely. Legal certainty is also an important element for air-carriers.
It must be taken into account, as it has been from the very beginning. ..the
Commission is committed to continuing to give due consideration to privacy
on the one hand and legal security on the other, as they form key principles
of this file, without forgetting the importance of preventing and fighting
terrorism and related transnational crimes.”
He also stressed the fact that the negotiations would be very challenging
requiring imagination and effort both from EU institutions as well as from
the US “in order to reach a very robust, solid solution.”
In the absence of an agreement, the airlines will be placed in a very
delicate situation between being fined by US for failing to provide the data
or sued for non-complying with European data protection laws in case they do so.
New developments in this matter will probably occur during this week’s EP
Data transfer to US: MEPs raise pressure (1.02.2007)
Europe preps for battle with U.S. over traveller data (1.02.2007)
European Parliament: Joint debate on a new agreement on Passenger Name
Records (PNR) and on SWIFT data (31.01.2007)
EDRI-gram : EU-US PNR agreement formally adopted by the EU Council