Tuesday

21st Nov 2017

EU flight data bill set for possible overhaul

  • In limbo: PNR was blocked by MEPs (Photo: *tamara*)

The European Commission is willing to rework a stalled EU airline data sharing bill that has infuriated MEPs and frustrated member states for the past three years.

“We will review our proposal to see if we can accommodate issues that have a role in both parliament and council,” EC vice-president Frans Timmermans told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (21 January).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

First proposed in 2011, the EU passenger name record (EU PNR) directive ran into a blockade of opposition from euro-deputies in the parliament’s civil liberties committee where it has been stuck ever since.

The bill requires airlines in the EU to hand over the personal details of their customers to the police where it can be kept for up to five years.

The socialist, Liberal, and Green political groups are demanding better rights safeguards amid concerns the proposal allows targeting of people not convicted of any crime.

Others are worried that the EU PNR may end up in a legislative scrap pile after the European Court of Justice annulled the EU data retention directive last year on issues similar to those raised by the MEPs.

The court invalidated the data retention directive because it violated privacy rights and was disproportionate.

One of the bill’s biggest critics, German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, said any new PNR proposal must take into account the Luxembourg-court data retention ruling.

“Home affairs ministers have to understand they cannot simply shove the old PNR proposal down the Parliament's throat,” he said in a statement.

The commission and member states want the bill passed with EU leaders last August urging the assembly to have it signed by the end of the 2014.

But MEPs have resisted despite intense pressure following the Brussels Jewish museum shooting last year and the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris earlier this month.

Advocates argue PNR is needed to better identify and track EU nationals returning home after fighting alongside Islamic militants in Iraq or Syria.

The directive would create a EU-wide legal basis for the data sharing for all 28 member states.

Around 15 countries are already putting in place their own national PNR systems, co-financed by the commission, annoying some MEPs who say it is pre-empting the legislative process.

Italy’s interior minister Angelino Alfano, in a letter addressed to EU council president Tusk in December, said several member states are considering interconnecting existing and future systems regardless of any EU law.

Timmermans, for his part, is now in listening mode and is sending EU commissioner for home affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos to the parliament “to take into account what changes they would like.”

Avramopoulos is set to meet the civil liberties committee on 27 January, two days before an informal justice and home affairs ministerial in Riga.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

Austrian privacy case against Facebook hits legal snag

Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems may sue Facebook Ireland in an Austrian court but won't be able to pursue a class action suit in Austria, according to a non-binding opinion by a top EU court advisor.

EU Parliament 'cookie' restrictions worry online media

The European Parliament and groups representing newspapers and magazines are at odds over how new privacy rules will affect the media, especially restrictions on website cookies - but one MEP thinks it could spark new business models.

EU Commission to target fake news

Mariya Gabriel, the EU digital economy commissioner, announces expert panel and says fake news can be tackled if people are given credible and diverse information.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  2. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  3. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  4. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  5. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  6. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  8. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  9. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  10. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  12. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency