31st May 2020

Elusive deal on passenger data edges closer

A long standing dispute over the use of data on airline passengers crossing the Atlantic may be in the offing, the EUobserver has learned.

According to one European diplomat a deal could emerge "in the next couple of days" over a dispute which has soured transatlantic relations since the US demanded data from European airlines as part of its 'war on terror'.

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 subscribe as a group

US officials told this news site that a deal in such a short period was unlikely, but said it could come by next month.

"I think we will look along the time frame set out by the [European] Parliament", the official said.

Euro-parliamentarians early in September set a two-month deadline for the Commission to stop the transfer of passenger data - as the body charged with 'guarding' the EU's basic laws.

The Parliament expressed concerns that European companies providing Washington with information, in what was essentially a legal black hole, may be breaking EU data protection rules.

After the attacks of 11 September 2001, the US demanded that airlines provide it with electronic access to 39 information fields from the Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, which includes elements like credit card information, addresses and the passengers' meal choice.

This amount of data is seen as excessive by MEPs, and out of proportion to the aim pursued.

Landing gear

It now seems that a deal will be struck which limits the amount of data made available and the length of time it is kept for.

The number of information fields kept and the number of years the data is retained have been cited as areas which are up for discussion.

So too has the type of crimes which appear on the passenger record.

The EU is insisting that only those accused of terrorist offences be brought into the spotlight while Washington wants the agreement to go further.

"We want to see the scope expanded to cover other crimes which may be indicative of terrorist activity", said the US official, pointing out that investigating individuals who have carried out crimes related to cross-border activity may help detect terrorists.

EU data protection rules abused to censor media

This week the EU's data protection rules (known as the GDPR) are two-years old. While the controversial GDPR was intended to offer greater privacy rights, it has also been abused by some authorities to muzzle a free press.

Internal EU report: Far-right terrorist attacks rise

An internal document drafted from the EU presidency highlights a rise in attacks by right-wing terrorists. The paper says the algorithms behind social media giants not only fuels violent radicalisation but also spreads right-wing violent extremist ideology.

'Disappointing' watchdog may get new EU banking role

The European Commission is floating plans to beef up the fight against money-laundering, including possibly giving a supervisor role to the European Banking Authority. Yet the authority's board refused to act on a €200bn money-laundering scandal involving Danske Bank.

News in Brief

  1. Orban calls EU Commission recovery plan 'absurd'
  2. ABBA's Björn new president of authors' rights federation
  3. Malta and Libya to create anti-migrant 'units'
  4. France reopening bars and parks next week
  5. EU wants more money to hedge against hard Brexit
  6. UK needs to move in negotiations, EU trade official says
  7. Germany seeks EU sanctions on Russia spy-chief
  8. EU extends sanctions against Syrian regime

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. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Spain takes 'giant step' on guaranteed minimum income
  2. Vestager hits back at Lufthansa bailout criticism
  3. EU Commission aspires for treaty change on health
  4. Did Russia get Nato's cosmic-level secrets?
  5. EU Commission: Five-fold aid increase for fossil-fuel regions
  6. France opposed guidelines on EU presidency sponsorships
  7. China's post-Covid 19 'techno-nationalist' industrial policy
  8. EU Commission's €1.85trn recovery package - key points

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us