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How far should the PNR (passanger name record) directive go?

In the past few years, terrorist routes have become more complex. As an Euractiv article points out (which can be found here), “analyses made by counter-terrorism agencies demonstrate that terrorists often use EU hubs instead of direct international flights and the complexity of their journeys has increased.”

As a response to this, various EU Member States are rallying behind a British led campaign proposing the extension of the PNR directive and its provisions not only to flights in and out the EU but also to intra-EU flights. They claim that controlling only the air travel outside of the Union would leave a considerable security gap, as for instance a terrorist could fly to Rotterdam and then fly anywhere inside the EU, the official authorities thereby loosing track of him/her.

The inclusion of intra-EU flights under the PNR rules is currying favour amongst several Member States. However, not everyone is convinced with this proposal. Germany, being backed up by Slovenia and Austria, holds that the inclusion of “domestic” EU flights into the PNR directive is in clear breach of free movement of persons, which is one of the fundamental values of the EU. They argue for a limited collection of PNR data only for flights to and from third-countries and for a strenghening of data protection rules.

On 11 April 2011, the Justice and Home Affairs ministers will be meeting in Luxembourg to hear the presentation on the PNR directive given by the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom.

Should the EU go the extra mile and include internal EU flights under the PNR directive in the name of security and to fight terrorism or should the PNR directive only concern flights to and from third-countries, keeping its intrusion to a minimum?

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