"With today's adoption of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, we strengthen security for Europeans. After years on the negotiating table, thanks to the pressure of the EPP Group, the European Parliament finally brought the discussion to an end. This is a big success for the EPP Group, who was continuously pushing for the swift adoption of this legislation, which had been blocked due to power games, mainly by left-wing groups. The new legislation is not a panacea but it is a very important tool in fighting terrorism and organised crime," commented EPP Group Chairman Manfred Weber, following today's vote on the airline passenger name records (PNR) system.
Manfred Weber stressed that: "In this context we have to strengthen law enforcement authorities too. We have to use all instruments available to protect citizens' lives and enhance security in our cities. The new data protection standards are very high. It is not a mass collection of data but targeted access to data. The collected data are used only in cases of serious crimes, in a restricted manner. With this positive vote today we, European politicians, showed our commitment to the safety and protection of citizens."
The EU PNR Directive is an important legal instrument for the detection of terrorism, organised crime, trafficking in human beings and drug smugglers. Apart from tracking known terrorists / criminals, the EU Passenger Name Record system shines a light on individuals who have, up until now, not been suspected, or necessarily linked, to either organised/serious crime or terrorism.
"Today's vote was the final leg of a long journey in which common sense finally prevailed. The EU PNR Directive is a strong solution to fighting terrorism!" stressed EPP Group Shadow Rapporteur, Axel Voss MEP, adding that: "We need this instrument in order to distinguish the bad from the good and to make our world a safer place. PNR adds true value to other EU tools. It provides data that cannot be provided by other tools. ISIS and other terrorist groups are not far away. They arrived in the heart of Europe and it is our duty to better protect our EU citizens, everything else would be political irresponsibility."
Main points of the PNR Directive:
- Flights from 3rd countries arriving or leaving a Member State, including transits, must submit PNR data to the PIU (Passenger Information Unit). The PIU will analyse the data and, where relevant, inform the authority in the specific Member State.
- Both the PIU and the national authorities would be overseen by an independent, objective body of authority.
- PNR data transferred would be retained in the national PIU for an initial period of 6 months, after which all data elements which could serve to identify a passenger will be masked out.
- The masked out data will be stored for a maximum of 5 years.
- The collection and use of sensitive data revealing a person’s race or ethnic origin, religious or philosophical beliefs, political opinion, trade union membership, health or sexual activity will be prohibited.