Following the 11 September attacks in 2001, the United States asked for access to the personal information of transatlantic air passengers in order to better track down potential terrorists. Establishing common rules on this in the EU has been on the agenda for years. Last December Parliament and member states agreed on a provisional agreement. MEPs approved the directive on 14 April 2016.
About passenger name records
Passenger name records contain private data about people on flights, such as their contact details, travel dates and itineraries. These are collected during reservation and the check-in procedure.
The proposed new rules will apply to flights to and from destinations outside the EU, but member states could also apply them to flights within the EU as well if they wanted.
Airlines will have to provide EU countries with information on their passengers in order to help authorities fight terrorism and serious crime. The data will be kept for five years. After six months some information will no longer be accessible, such as passengers’ names and the number of people travelling together. This is in order to protect their privacy.
Parliament’s civil liberties committee rejected an earlier proposal in April 2013 over privacy concerns, but the issue of passenger name records was back on the agenda following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. Negotiations between Parliament and the Council and the European Commission restarted last September and the Parliament and Council reached a deal in December 2015.
MEPs debated the proposed directive on 13 April 2016 and adopted it the following day by 461 votes to 179 and nine abstentions.