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The EU and the United States strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism

19-04-2012 12:54:00

The European Parliament approves new agreement between the EU and the United States on the exchange of passenger data.The EU has taken an important step in the fight against international crime and in the protection of the privacy of European citizens. The European-Parliament today voted to approve a new agreement between the EU and the USA on the exchange of airline passenger data for the purpose of combating serious cross-border crime. The Minister of Justice, Mr. Morten Bødskov, represented the Danish EU Presidency during the final debate in the European Parliament.

Today the European Parliament voted to approve a new agreement between the EU and the United States on the exchange of passenger data (PNR)-data). The agreement creates a new and improved legal basis for European airlines to transfer passenger data to the Unites States Department of Homeland Security. The agreement also contains a number of provisions that ensures that the United States authorities process personal data on European airline passengers in a manner that respects their right to privacy.

The President of the Council (Justice and Home Affairs), Minister of Justice Mr. Morten Bødskov states:

”The use of PNR-data is a crucial and effective tool in the fight against serious cross-border crime including terrorism.

At the same time it is important that PNR-data is used only to the extent which is relevant and necessary and – of course – in a manner which en-sures adequate protection of individual rights.

The new agreement strikes an appropriate balance between the needs of law enforcement authorities and the rights of the individual.

It is therefore very satisfactory, that the European Parliament today has voted to approve a new PNR agreement with the United States.

The new agreement ensures that our close American partners, also in the future, will have access to the data, which is necessary to fight serious international crime. This will be to the benefit of both American and European citizens.

In return, the Unites States authorities are obligated to adhere to a number of requirements aimed at ensuring that the processing of personal data concerning airline passengers takes place while ensuring an adequate level of data protection.”

Background

Several years ago the United States government established a PNR-system containing passenger data from airlines operating flights to the United States.

In 2004 and 2007 the EU entered into agreements with the United States concerning the transfer and use of PNR data. The agreements were made necessary by fact that Unites States authorities obligates air lines to provide PNR-data as a condition for the issuing of landing rights to the air lines. By providing PNR data the air lines could however be found to be in violation of EU data protection rules applicable in the EU Member States. The PNR agreements were entered into to address this conflict. The agreements therefore contain rules on data protection governing the transfer and use of PNR data.

In accordance with a request from the European Parliament the Council (Justice and Home Affairs) in 2010 requested that the European Commission renegotiate the existing agreement from 2007 in order to secure an improved level of data protection when processing the personal data of air-line passengers.

At the end of 2011 an agreement was reached between the European Commission and the United States government on a new draft agreement. At the meeting of the Council (Justice and Home Affairs) on 13-14 December 2011 the Council decided to sign the agreement on behalf of the EU. Before the Council can decide to enter into the agreement on behalf of the EU, the European Parliament must give its consent.

The agreement which the European Parliament now has approved contains provisions on several issues including data security, deletion of sensitive personal data, right of access to processed data, right of rectification and provisions on administrative and judicial review in accordance with United States law. The agreement will replace the existing agreement between the parties from 2007.

The conclusion of the agreement on behalf of the EU is expected to be finalized at the meeting of the Council (Justice and Home Affairs) on 26-27 April 2012.

Contact

Questions from the press should be directed to Special Advisor Mr. jakob Thune at +45 22146650, while others are requested to contact Head of Section Mr. Christian Wiese Svanberg at +45 50761117.

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