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EU-Australia PNR agreement to get green light


27 Oct 2011


Global Europe

Today the European Parliament granted its consent to the conclusion of a new agreement with Australia on the conditions ruling the transfer of Passenger Name Records (PNR). Liberals and Democrats from the very beginning of debate on the transfer of air passenger data, back in 2003, have always led the fight for the tight legal safeguards and data protection clauses governing the transfer of data.

Rapporteur Sophie in 't Veld (D66, Netherlands) stated: "This agreement is far better than the previous one, since it meets most of the criteria the Parliament set last year. In the new agreement we have ensured that the purpose definition has been limited strictly to combating terrorism and serious transnational crime. It is the first reversal of the trend towards limitless data collection and sharing. However, as in any negotiation, we have not been able to eliminate all our concerns and reservations: the retention period of 5,5 years appears to be randomly chosen, and not based on specific evidence. Moreover  we are of the view that the legal base should have been Treaty Article 16 on data protection, rather than articles on police and justice cooperation".

For In 't Veld, dilemmas remain: "All of us still have  doubts and hesitations. For this reason, some groups in the Parliament withheld their support or vote for this reason. I fully understand their objections, and I share most of their concerns. However, they know as well as I do, that a "No" vote will not stop the transfer of data. We do not vote on the actual transfer of data, we can only vote on the conditions governing the transfer of data. A "No" vote is purely symbolical".

In't Veld welcomed the good cooperation between the European Parliament, Commission and Council: "This example demonstrated that if the institutions work together, Europe is a force to be reckoned with".

For further information

Neil Corlett: +33-3-88 17 41 67 or +32-478-78 22 84


Federica Terzi: +33-3-88 17 35 53 or +32-494 18 88 31