U.S. legislation empowers the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to require each air carrier operating passenger flights to and from the U.S., to provide it with electronic access to Passenger Name Record (PNR) data prior to the passenger arriving or leaving the U.S. This legislation aims at obtaining PNR data electronically in advance of a flight's arrival and therefore significantly enhances DHS ability to conduct efficient and effective advance risk assessment of passengers and to facilitate bona fide travel, thereby enhancing the security.
The Agreement will also foster international police and judicial cooperation through the transfer of analytical information flowing from PNR data by the U.S. to the competent Member States authorities as well as Europol and Eurojust within their respective competences.
PNR is a record of each passenger's travel requirements which contains all information necessary to enable reservations to be processed and controlled by air carriers.
The data protection laws of the EU do not allow European and other carriers operating flights from the EU to transmit the PNR data of their passengers to third countries which do not ensure an adequate level of protection of personal data without adducing appropriate safeguards. A solution is required that will provide the legal basis for the transfer of PNR data from the EU to the U.S. as a recognition of the necessity and importance of the use of PNR data in the fight against terrorism and other serious transnational crime, whilst avoiding legal uncertainty for air carriers. In addition, this solution should be applied homogenously throughout the European Union in order to ensure a legal certainty for air carriers and respect of individuals' rights to the protection of personal data as well as their physical security.
The European Union signed an agreement in 2007 with the United States on the transfer and processing of PNR data based on a set of commitments by DHS in relation to the application of its PNR programme. This Agreement, as of the date of its entry into force, shall supersede the Agreement between the United States of America and the European Union on the processing and transfer of passenger name record (PNR) data by air carriers to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), signed at Brussels and Washington, 23 and 26 July 2007.
Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and pending the conclusion of the agreement, the Council sent the 2007 U.S. Agreement to the European Parliament for its consent for the conclusion. The European Parliament adopted a resolution in which it decided to postpone its vote on the requested consent and requesting a renegotiation of the Agreement on the basis of certain criteria. Pending such renegotiation, the 2007 Agreement remained provisionally applicable.
This Agreement takes into consideration and is consistent with the general criteria laid down in the Communication from the Commission on the Global Approach to the transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries and the negotiating directives given by the Council.
PNR has proven to be a very important tool in the fight against terrorism and serious crime. The Agreement has secured several important safeguards for those whose data will be transferred and used. In particular, the purpose of processing of PNR data is strictly limited to preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences and serious transnational crime. The retention period of the PNR data is limited and PNR will be used for a shorter period in the fight against serious transnational crime and a longer one for terrorism.