EP Rapporteur In 't Veld set to reject new EU-US Passenger Name Records Agreement (PNR) / 01-02-2012
Sophie in 't Veld (D66, NL), will outline today her recommendation for the European Parliament to withhold consent on the EU-US PNR Agreement for which she is Parliament's rapporteur. The Agreement on the transfer of Passenger Name Records (PNR), signed by the Council in 2011, does not meet the criteria set by the European Parliament in its 2010 resolutions, and is not in line with EU legislation.
"This Agreement is the fourth subsequent agreement on the transfer of PNR data since negotiations started in spring 2003. It is deeply disappointing that 9 years of negotiations with our closest friend and ally, the United States of America, have not resulted in an agreement that respects European standards on fundamental rights", said In 't Veld.
"Compared to the first EU-US PNR Agreement of 2004, the new Agreement represents a deterioration on many points. Do not forget that the European Parliament sought annulment of the 2004 Agreement before the European Court of Justice. We cannot credibly endorse an agreement that is no better, or even worse, than the 2004 one."
In 't Veld considers that the Agreement concluded earlier this year with Australia constitutes a minimum standard the EU should meet when signing PNR agreements with third countries. "Endorsing the transfer of PNR data on these terms creates a precedent that should not be underestimated especially given the growing number of countries requiring the transfer of PNR data."
Nevertheless In 't Veld welcomed the involvement of US Congress in the oversight procedure. "It is a positive step that we will engage with our parliamentary counterparts across the Atlantic. But to my deep regret, the actual text of the Agreement has not improved to the point where I can give a favourable recommendation," concluded MEP In 't Veld while recognising the huge efforts made by the Commission in trying to secure a better agreement.
Purpose limitation: The European Parliament in 2010 stipulated that PNR data may be used for the purposes of fighting terrorism and serious transnational crime. However, the Agreement allows for other unspecified purposes including immigration and border controls.
Retention periods: Data will be stored indefinitely, but access will be progressively restricted and after 15 years data will be made anonymous. In 't Veld explained: "The retention period is much longer than the period in the PNR agreement with Australia, and certainly much longer than the EU-US PNR Agreement of 2004 that foresaw a 3,5 years retention period, after which the data were destroyed."
Method of transfer: The "pull" method for the transfer of data will be retained, contrary to the explicit demand of the European Parliament. This means US authorities can still enter European computer systems to "pull" data. Figures have shown that in the past the US could perform up to tens of thousands of "pulls" each month. Use of sensitive data: The Agreement allows for the use of sensitive data, such as medical data or data on sex life or religion, whereas it was explicitly prohibited in the 2004 Agreement.
Judicial redress: The 2011 Agreement also still does not offer full judicial redress for EU citizens. Onward transfer to third countries: Clauses about sharing data between agencies and onward transfer to third countries have not been substantially tightened compared to earlier versions of the agreement.
Necessity/proportionality: The necessity and proportionality of the mass collection and storage of PNR data have not been demonstrated sufficiently. No less intrusive alternatives for PNR have been explored.
Parliamentary procedure timetable:
- 27th February 2012: presentation of draft recommendation in the Civil Liberties committee (LIBE)
- 20th March 2012: Vote in LIBE
- April 2012: Vote in plenary
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