Verhofstadt: PNR Agreement falls short of EU standards on data privacy / 19-04-2012
Today the main political groups in the European Parliament gave the green light to the EU-US agreement on the transfer of Passenger Name Records (PNR), despite the rapporteur Sophie in 't Veld (D66, Netherlands) recommending to withhold consent.
ALDE Group President Guy Verhofstadt said: "Liberals and Democrats strongly believe that this new agreement does not meet the minimum criteria outlined by the Parliament in 2011 and that it is not in line with EU legislation on data privacy", explained Verhofstadt. "We respect that the Commission believes this is the best agreement that could be achieved with the US Administration and take note of the additional declaration in relation to limiting the scope of the agreement but we do not consider this agreement offers sufficient assurance to justify granting our consent."
In 2004 the European Parliament went to court to seek the annulment of the EU-US PNR Agreement. It also refused to vote for consent to the 2007 interim version. The main objections against the 2004 and 2007 Agreements, such as the lack of strict limitations of the use of data, disproportionate retention periods and inadequate judicial redress have not been satisfactorily resolved in the latest version.
"The main political parties in the Parliament have crossed a red line by supporting an agreement that compromised on our core principles, namely our EU citizens' fundamental rights. This sets a dangerous precedent for future agreements with third countries", Verhofstadt concluded.
ALDE MEP Sophie in't Veld said: "We acknowledge the efforts of the Commission, to deliver a more balanced agreement, but unfortunately it still falls short of the high standards of data privacy and legal protection that our citizens expect. In politics we make compromises but some things are not negotiable such as fundamental rights and respect for EU law. Apparently the European Parliament believes Transatlantic relations are more important than the fundamental rights of EU citizens."
"The decision of the European Parliament does not reflect my recommendation. Therefore I choose to distance myself from it. It is disappointing that after nine years of negotiating with our closest friends and allies, the US, we only got an agreement that gets reluctant support from a divided House".
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