Tuesday

19th Jun 2018

Governments eschew urgency of passenger flight data law

  • Intense French-led lobbying helped push the EU PNR through the European Parliament (Photo: angeloangelo)

National governments are yet to launch a much touted EU law to data sweep airline passengers flying into and out of Europe, a European Commission official said on Friday (7 October).

The so-called EU passenger name records (EU PNR) directive was passed earlier this year amid a keen sense of urgency from leaders in the fight against crime and terrorism.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

But despite the European Commission having doled out tens of millions to finance 15 national PNR schemes, years before the directive's launch, not a single member state has implemented the EU-level plan, as of date. The national PNR schemes were launched as projects to help lay the groundwork for an EU-wide level proposal.

An EU official told this website that EU states are likely at different stages of putting it in place, but that none have implemented it in full. Asked to comment, a commission spokesman told reporters in Brussels that member states have until May 2018 to transpose the directive into their national laws.

The message contrasts with comments by Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration, who told MEPs in April that there was no time to lose.

"The commission will be putting pressure on member states to implement it as soon as possible: we cannot wait for two years," he had said.

The file had been blocked at the EU parliament's civil liberties committee for years over outstanding issues on fundamental rights to privacy and data protection.

But in April, the assembly caved into intense pressure following the recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, with senior figures like French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve lobbying individual MEPs.

The file won by 461 to 179 votes in the EU parliament.

Valls and Safran

The French boosting followed a March visit from prime minister Manuel Valls to Safran, a company that deals with PNR data. Safran is based in Evry, a town near Paris, which has since landed major contracts to launch PNR schemes in Estonia and France.

Valls also spent ten year as Evry mayor, up until 2012, before becoming the country's interior minister.

National schemes

The money has gone to help Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden to set up national PNR systems. But as of July, only Austria has managed to get one up and running.

The EU commission told Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld, also in July, that it had no overview of the procurement procedures and actual costs of the projects. It also has no insights into the companies that have benefited despite handing over a €50 million check.

The EU directive lays out standards to allow them to exchange the data between themselves and states outside the EU.

Court of Justice

The EU PNR directive promises to help authorities track down possible terrorists but critics say there is no evidence it will work. The fear of returning foreign fighters helped, in part, to trigger a dash to get the file adopted despite wider reservations from civil liberty defenders.

In a further blow, a European Court of Justice judge in September issued an opinion saying the EU would not be able to implement a similar data exchange agreement with Canada.

The €500 million scheme will mask people's data after six months, which is stored for up to five years.

EU states may also choose to collect data on all intra-EU flights under the scope of the directive.

MEPs set to back air-passenger data sharing

EU lawmakers are likely to pass the Passenger Name Records bill into law on Thursday despite outstanding questions on its costs, effectiveness and impact on civil liberties.

Focus

EU data chief says passenger information bill is unjustified

European data protection supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, says there is not enough information to justify the necessity of the EU Passenger Name Record scheme, which stores and can divulge the personal details of passengers flying in and out of Europe.

UK visitors to pay into EU budget after Brexit

The EU Commission says extra revenue generated from a new visa-free travel scheme, to launch in 2020, would go to the EU budget, reducing member state contributions.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Audi CEO arrested over Dieselgate
  2. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  3. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform
  4. Merkel to meet Conte to find migration compromise
  5. Seehofer gives Merkel time to strike EU migration deal
  6. Schroeder and Sarkozy appear with Putin at World Cup
  7. Tennis champ and 'EU diplomat' claims immunity
  8. Italy threatens to ditch EU-Canada free trade deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Orban to EPP: turn 'Christian democratic' or face challenge
  2. Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?
  3. Tear gas bodes ill for Macedonia name deal
  4. EU asylum claims drop, Germany registers most
  5. EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too
  6. Basque threat of 'second front' for independence
  7. Progressive regulation needed now for 21st century finance
  8. Greece and Merkel's fate top This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us