Fighting Terrorism: MEPs Urged to Support EU-Wide ‘Passenger Name Register’

Written by | Thursday, January 15th, 2015

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has urged the MEPs to support the establishment of an EU-wide shared data base which will contain personal information of air passengers arriving in or leaving the European Union. Mr Tusk asked the European Parliament to review its position on the single passenger name register (PNR) within the block after a series of attacks perpetrated by a group of Islamists had claimed the lives of 17 people in France last week. Paris has also appealed to the MEPs to give the project a greenlight and set aside their concerns over privacy issues. The formed Polish Prime Minister said that “this Parliament has rightly taken seriously its role in defending the freedoms of European citizens” but Mr Tusk also asked MEPs to help protect the security of those who elected this chamber.

The Council President thinks that the failure to create a single European PNR will lead to 28 separate national systems, which will ultimately become “a patchwork with holes”. Such a system would, in his opinion, interfere with the privacy of citizens but would not do much to properly protect the security of EU nationals. The proposal to create a unified PNR was rejected in April 2013 by 30 votes to 25 and the dossier has not been touched since then. According to the French Minister for the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, the EU-US talks held in Paris on 11 January orbited precisely around the need to establish a PNR database in Europe.

Nevertheless, the MEPs have not been persuaded yet and they remain cautious about the adoption of the legal framework. Despite the new momentum given by the Paris terror attacks, the Spanish Socialist MEP Enrique Guerrero Salom said that making quick decisions influenced by strong emotions and overall mood would not be wise. The PNR legislation “should be debated calmly and not in the heat of the latest events,” he added.

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