Pressure to revive uniform air-passenger information legislation in Europe


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The European Parliament is considering reviving draft legislation which would force airline companies to give EU member governments a cohesive and uniform set of passenger information, following heightened security concerns in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris earlier in January.

The draft legislation, originally rejected by the Parliament’s civil-liberties committee in April 2013, is now being steered by Tory Party member Timothy Kirkhope through the EU assembly.

According to Home Land Security News Wire, the measures, — originally proposed in 2011 before being rejected two years later, would require all EU and foreign flight carriers to provide authorities with data on passengers and their PNR, or “passenger name record” information, which includes seat number, reservation date, payment method, and travel itinerary.

“Europe’s patchwork use of PNR creates weak point that terrorists can exploit,” said Kirkhope in a statement last Tuesday to the 28-nation Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

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“I want an agreement that safeguards lives and liberties by offering stronger data-protection rules while also making it much harder for a radicalized fighter to slip back into Europe undetected,” he added.

The heightened security concerns come after it was reported that among the 7 January Jihadist attackers was one who may have received military training in Yemen and traveled between Syria and France days before the attacks. Some see the more cohesive EU-sanctioned PNR as a safer alternative to the sporadic use of it in place currently.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron have both urged the Parliament in recent days to unblock the bill. EU president Donald Tusk also added his voice to those supporting the proposal, declaring on 13 January in Strasbourg that at stake was the need to “protect the security of those who elected to this chamber.” Tusk also added “If we do not get a single European PNR, we may end up with twenty-eight national ones. One European system is clearly better for security and freedom.”