PNR agreements with US and Australia on the European Parliament's Agenda

By EDRi · March 10, 2010

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Deutsch: [EP: Passagierdatenabkommen mit den USA und Australien auf der Tagesordnung |]

The European Parliament (EP) has discussed last week the PNR (Passenger Name
Records) agreements with the US and Australia.

MEP Sophie In’t Veld (ALDE, Netherlands) explained that the Parliament
has traditionally been more opposed to PNR agreements than to SWIFT. She
said that it would be inappropriate to give the Parliament an
option only to say “yes” or “no” to the proposal. As the EP previously took
the identical EU-US PNR agreement to the European Court of Justice, it would
be illogical to say “yes” while saying “no” would cause problems for air
carriers and would negate whatever purposes the system might be used

“The PNR case is more complicated”, she said, since “the consequences will
be much more serious”: the flow of data will have to stop if there is a no
vote. In addition, “the provision of PNR data is part of the conditions the
United States have imposed in exchange for a derogation from the visa

The Civil Liberties Committee has suggested postponing their vote on the
matter so that a board PNR agreement may be constructed that should meet the
Parliament’s demands regarding data protection.

The Commission could develop a new mandate and, possibly in April this
year, the Parliament could establish its minimum requirements for such an
agreement. This approach could cover deals with the US, Australia and other
third countries and establish the basis for an internal EU PNR. Minimum
requirements which the Parliament should consider include purpose
limitation, legal status of agreements, adequate data protection and storage

The Council representative said it was up to the Commission to draft a
proposal. The Commission doubted the time frame suggested by In’t Veld,
saying that it could take until Autumn for such a draft to be ready and
approved by the European Parliament.

The US is very unhappy with the proposal of the LIBE committee and sent Mary
Ellen Callahan, Chief Privacy Officer at the US Homeland Security Department
to have discussions in the European Parliament. She pointed out that the PNR
was very effective in fighting terror, making reference to a report from
February 2010 claiming that the US Customs and Border Protection Department
complied with the US-EU Data Sharing Deal.

She also added that the “PNR was useful in detecting one third of the
potential terrorists the US identified last year.”

The European Parliament has the possibility to reject the PNR agreement,
as it happened in the SWIFT case. In fact some MEPs also warned the EU
Council: “If you act as if there had been no SWIFT, this would not be proper
cooperation. But I am glad to see the Commission is negotiating a shift of
position and I hope the Council will move in the same direction”, said
Jan-Philipp Albrecht (Greens-EFA, Germany).

MEPs want rules on PNR data transfers to non-EU states (5.03.2010)

Meeting Agenda – LIBE Committee

US seeks to persuade EU deputies to back terror data deal (8.03.2010)

Counter-terrorism agreements: MEPs up pressure on passenger data (5.03.2010)

EDRi-gram: DHS Report shows lack of compliance with the EU-US PNR agreement