EU Commission initiates talks with Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland to share PNR for enhanced security

The European Commission aims to enhance security in the Schengen area by proposing negotiations with Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland for sharing Passenger Name Record (PNR) data.

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The European Commission suggests discussions with Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland to create agreements concerning sharing Passenger Name Record (PNR) information. The Commission’s choice is founded on an evaluation report from July 2020, which showcased tangible outcomes achieved by employing PNR data to combat various crimes, including human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, child abduction, and acts of terrorism. The assessment revealed that the directive overseeing PNR data had a favorable impact on ensuring efficient PNR systems across the EU member states.

The negotiations aim to build upon international standards and global security commitments, contributing to heightened security within the Schengen area. Moreover, the Commission stated that it would collaborate closely with these countries to tackle any issues and enhance the mechanism’s effectiveness, all while prioritizing fundamental rights. This move follows the recent adoption of legislation enabling the merging of API and PNR data for more effective identification of ‘high-risk travelers.’

Why does it matter?

While the share of PNR may be a useful tool for the enforcement authorities to prevent and fight against terrorism, its enforcement shall be justified, necessary, and proportionate to ensure the protection of the right to privacy and non-discrimination. This was seen in 2019 when the Belgian Constitutional Court referred to the CJEU on the validity of the EU Directive 2016/681 on using PNR to prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute terrorist offenses and serious crimes (PNR Directive). The CJEU ruled that the PNR Directive is valid but set that data may be retained only in cases where authorities find that there is ‘a genuine and present or foreseeable terrorist threat to which the Member State is concerned.’