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New EU rules on the use of air passenger data

2 February 2011

The European Commission adopted today a proposal for a Directive on common rules for the use of Passenger Name Record data (PNR) to better fight serious crime and terrorism. The proposal obliges air carriers to save certain information on passengers on flights to and from the EU.

"Many Member States already use this kind of data, and other EU countries are in the process of setting up their own systems. PNR has proved to be an important tool to fight serious crime such as illegal drug smuggling and human trafficking, but also to target terrorist networks. With common EU rules we can make sure that this data is handled properly within all the EU, and at the same time strengthen data protection and protection of citizens' personal integrity, not least by requiring Member States to make the information anonymous after 30 days", says EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström, who presented the proposal during a press conference in Brussels today.

Serious crime and terrorism cause great harm to victims, but also in economic terms. Every year, illegal drugs alone cause thousands of deaths in Europe, and during 2008 22 out of the 27 EU Member States reported that drug related crime cost them 4,2 billion euro.

Member States that already use PNR have reported of many examples that show the importance of Passenger Name Records in targeting trafficking networks and drug smuggling. One example is Belgium, who reported that 95 percent of the illegal drugs seized in 2009 were exclusively or predominantly due to the processing of PNR data. In Sweden, the corresponding figure was 65-75 percent. The analysis of PNR data has also proven very important for identifying and dismantling terrorists' networks.

Read more in the press release and frequently asked questions, and watch the press conference from earlier today. The proposal in full can be found below.