Thursday

2nd Apr 2020

MEPs vote down air passenger data scheme

  • Kirkhope: vote 'did not show parliament in a good light' (Photo: angeloangelo)

Euro-deputies in the civil liberties committee on Wednesday (24 April) rejected a proposal obliging airline companies to pass personal details of EU passengers to member state authorities.

The bill, presented in 2011 by the European Commission as a key anti-terrorism measure, was thrown out by 30 votes to 25. It concerned the data of passengers flying into and out of the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The vote was split along party political lines, with Greens, Socialists and Liberals mostly against and the conservatives in favour.

Dutch liberal MEP Sophie In't Veld, an expert on data privacy issues, said the parliament had not fought so hard to shape similar rules concerning EU passengers flying to the US "only to give in now on the grounds that this proposal applies within the EU."

Critics do not like the proposal because it does not prevent the use of passenger name records (PNR) for profiling with the possibility for the data to be stored on police databases for five years.

Timothy Kirkhope, the British conservative MEP heading up the dossier, said the vote "did not show parliament in a good light."

"This agreement would have enabled us to track terrorists, people traffickers and other serious criminals and it would put in place strong protections for passenger data," he said.

He accused those of voting against the proposal of doing so more for "grandstanding" reasons than out of principle, pointing out that the EU already has such an agreement with the US.

Sixteen of the 27 EU governments already collect air passenger data but the rules vary among the states.

For its part, the European Commission reacted by saying it was "extremely important" that the proposal was adopted as soon as possible and noting that it was "just" a committee vote.

There is now a tussle about whether the issue should come before plenary - a question that is to be decided by the heads of the political groups in the parliament.

Kirkhope believes a plenary vote - the parliament is dominated by the centre-right - would be in favour of the rules, meaning the issue would once again go before the civil rights committee for deliberation. The commission could also come up with a revised proposal.

But in any case the committee vote means the matter has been delayed by a few weeks at least.

"The vote taken this morning was an orientation vote. That is a necessary vote to allow the remaining parts of the proposals to be voted on or dealt with. The other proposals contained a considerable number of compromises which were never determined because this vote was taken on a preemptory basis," said Kirkhope

"Because the vote was to reject as a proposal as a whole, that will now have to go before the parliament to get it confirmed or otherwise. But it has set us back in time. It is a process that will take quite a little while " he added.

EU to tighten privacy rules on air passenger data

The EU commission wants to strengthen privacy rules for sharing personal data of air travellers to the US, Australia and Canada and limit the use of this data strictly to fighting terrorism and serious organised crime.

Internet giants discuss jihad with EU ministers

Senior officials from Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft met with EU interior ministers and officials at a dinner in Luxembourg on how to counter jihadist propaganda.

News in Brief

  1. Danish conservatives want Orban party kicked out of EPP
  2. Dutch finance minister repents on virus help
  3. France to house domestic violence victims in hotels
  4. Europe sends medical goods to Iran, despite US embargo
  5. Commission sets consultation on raising 2030 climate target
  6. 12-year old Belgian girl dies of coronavirus
  7. EU commission: no 'indefinite' emergency measures
  8. Denmark plans 'gradual' return to normal after Easter

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Without European patriotism, EU decline is inevitable
  2. EU cancels April Fool's 'fake news'
  3. A coronavirus 'Marshall Plan' alone won't be nearly enough
  4. Trying to think straight about coronavirus
  5. Berlin ready to airlift Greek island refugees
  6. Von der Leyen criticises Hungary, but fails to mention it
  7. Air pollution drops in Europe, but how long will it last?
  8. Human rights abusers don't stop for virus, MEPs tell EU

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us