EU Parliament votes on forcing airlines to share passenger details

Irish MEP Sean Kelly says information-sharing is key to fighting terrorism

The European Parliament will vote this week on measures that would force EU airlines to share all passenger information with authorities.

The EU PNR (Passenger Name Record) proposals have twice been defeated because of concerns over the right to privacy and data protection.

However they are being considered again in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Irish MEP Sean Kelly says that the sharing of flight details in and out of the EU is essential if Europe is to protect itself from international terrorism.

Last December, the EU Parliament and Council reached an agreement on a measure requiring more systematic collection, use and retention of airline passengers' personal data. including travel dates and itineraries, contact details and payment information.

This includes travel dates and itineraries, contact details and payment information.

Acting Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald confirmed Ireland will be part of the new arrangement, which will cover both scheduled and chartered flights. Travel agents and airlines will be obliged to forward details in advance of flight departures.

While member states would have the right to request PNR data from another member state to support a specific investigation, sensitive data - such as a person's race, religion, political opinion or health - would be not shared.

After months of delays, MEPs need to endorse the draft PNR agreement on Thursday, April 14th.

For flights between an EU country and a non-EU country, air carriers would also be obliged to send PNR data to the member state involved. 

An estimated 5,000 Europeans have joined terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria and EU officials say these returning foreign fighters pose a threat to security.

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Member states would share "alerts" created from the processing of this data for investigations into terrorism and serious crimes like human trafficking, drug trafficking, or child pornography.

Currently, passenger manifests - lists of those on board - are forwarded by airlines to the airport at which they are due to land, but it has not been used for security purposes.

Last November, the EU Parliament adopted a resolution on the prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of Europeans, including proposals to segregate radicalised inmates in prisons and ask for greater transparency on external financial flows.