After years of foot-dragging and sheer obstruction from the Left side of the House, the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs today finally approved the terrorist tracking programme also known as the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) system. The EPP Group played a key role in securing the required majority.
“Europe and its citizens are heaving a sigh of relief after the positive vote on the EU PNR system in committee today. Common sense has prevailed and after more than four years of negotiations, we have finally concluded the dossier. Negotiations were very difficult as the Socialists and the Liberals blocked the talks. The Charlie Hebdo attacks and the Paris terrorist attacks on 13 November have catalysed the negotiations. The agreed compromise is a good piece of EU law and the EU PNR system will help the investigations of criminal and terrorist offences, thus helping prevent further attacks and therefore making our citizens' lives safer,” said MEP Axel Voss, the EPP Group's negotiator on the dossier.
This committee vote is not the final vote. The whole European Parliament will vote on this law at the plenary session in January 2016.
Some Member States already collect and process the data of air passengers but today, MEPs voted for an EU-wide PNR system.
What is PNR?
Passenger Name Record or PNR data is the ‘information provided by passengers during the reservation and booking of tickets, and when checking in on flights, as well as collected by air carriers for their own commercial purposes’. The system contains a variety of information such as travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, the travel agent through which the flight was booked, payment method, seat number and baggage information. All different types of data are stored in the airlines' reservation and departure control databases.
One very important benefit of a PNR system is that it helps massively in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. Travel information gathered by carriers can be employed as an important tool for law enforcement authorities to prevent, detect and investigate crime and prosecute perpetrators. PNR data has been used manually for almost 60 years by customs and law enforcement authorities, however, technological developments have allowed for a more systematic usage of PNR data for law enforcement purposes.
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 216 Members from 27 Member States