Tuesday

6th Dec 2022

MEPs criticise Brussels' plan to collect data on air passengers

European lawmakers have said they are "concerned" about a European Commission proposal that EU member states collect 19 pieces of air passenger data, a move that mirrors the controversial US database on European air travellers.

On Wednesday (12 December), the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the fight against terrorism, stating it is "unacceptable" to introduce an EU-wide air passengers name recording scheme (PNR) without a thorough scrutiny of the existing PNR agreement between the EU and Washington, especially of its benefits for security and its impact on privacy and civil liberties.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

Some 359 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution drafted by French liberal Jean-Marie Cavada, while 293 parliamentarians were against and 38 abstained.

"There is very little material available on the effectiveness of this measure", Dutch liberal Sophia in't Veld told EUobserver, adding that an impact study tabled by the commission is rather "a political pamphlet".

The idea to collect and analyse air passenger data by member states' law enforcement authorities is a part of a new EU counter-terrorism strategy put forward by EU home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini in November.

Under the proposal, security bodies would gain access to 19 pieces of passenger information - including name, address, passport data, telephone numbers, travel agent, credit card number, history of changes in the flight schedule and seat preference.

Sensitive information such as racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership as well as health and sexual orientation should not be revealed, according to the commission.

The data - which EU capitals could store for up to thirteen years - should serve as a basis for decisions such as secondary screening upon a passenger's arrival or a refusal of entry in the destination country.

According to the EU parliament, a frequent guardian of civil liberties and data protection, the "potential misuse of the personal information" is a major risk.

"Any form of profiling in counter-terrorism measures is unacceptable", the resolution says, referring to the fact that the new data-mining technique is designed to use personal characteristics to determine whether someone is likely to commit a particular type of crime.

MEPs say that "the necessity and proportionality" of the proposed profiling scheme is questionable.

In general, the MEPs criticise the fact that anti-terror measures are not being sufficiently scrutinised by European and national parliaments.

In response, the parliamentarians call on the EU's executive arm to carry out a thorough evaluation of counter-terrorism tools every two years - something that should verify their real effectiveness, their impact on fundamental rights as well as the real costs.

The resolution is a victory for socialist and liberal MEPs in the face of opposition from their centre-right colleagues, who tried to soften the critical tone of the paper.

Centre-right deputies claimed that swiftly-adopted action against terrorism is justified in specific circumstances.

EU countries struggle to crack Hungary's vetos

Hungary will be in the spotlight on Tuesday as EU governments struggle over suspending EU funds to prime minister Viktor Orbán's government — despite rule of law concerns — and unlock key EU policies which Budapest has been blocking.

EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary

Prime minister Viktor Orbán's government has to implement 27 measures "fully and correctly" before any payment from the €5.8bn recovery fund can be made, or the suspended €7.5bn of cohesion funds can be unblocked.

Catalan spyware victims demand justice

Victims of the widening spyware scandal in Spain are demanding justice and reparations, following the revelations that journalists, lawyers, civil society and politicians had been targeted.

EU Commission to keep Hungary's EU funds in limbo

The EU executive, on the other hand, is expected to approve Hungary's recovery plan, worth €5.8bn, but only would disburse actual money if Hungary delivers on some 27 key reforms.

Opinion

Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU countries struggle to crack Hungary's vetos
  2. Frontex expanding migrant route-busting mission in Balkans
  3. EU ministers in fresh battle on joint debt, after Biden subsidies
  4. EU: 'We'll see' if Moscow actually stops selling oil over price-cap
  5. Bad Karma
  6. Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia
  7. Hungary's funds showdown in focus This WEEK
  8. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us