The European Commission has adopted recommendations to the Council to start negotiations with Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, for agreements on the transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data.
According to the press release issued by the EU Commission, the transfer of PNR data will help the respective authorities to strengthen the detection, and prosecution and improve the investigation of terrorist and serious criminal offences.
These agreements will establish the conditions for the transfer of PNR data to the authorities of Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, respecting data protection safeguards and fundamental rights.
“Opening negotiations with Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway on PNR is an important step forward to increase security in the Schengen area, in line with the Commission’s PNR policy, which builds on international standards and addresses global security commitments,” the press release reads.
A review report from July 2020, reveals that PNR data has shown concrete results in fighting against terrorism and serious crimes, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, child abduction and child sexual abuse, as well as the participation in organised crime groups.
In addition, the same report reveals that in the first two years of applying the Directive, the result is overall positive. The main conclusion of reviewing the directive is that the Directive has had a positive contribution to its key objective of ensuring effective PNR systems across the Member states.
The same points out that the Commission will work closely with the countries to make sure that all issues and challenges related to this measure are addressed and the mechanism becomes more efficient while also prioritising the respect for fundamental rights.
Some of the issues that have emerged from the PNR Directive’s practical application need further assessment and there are possibilities there will be a possible extension in the Directive’s scope.
Earlier this year, the EU Commission adopted a new law that will enable the member states’ enforcement authorities to combine API data – that includes flight information and other identification details, with the passenger name record data.
“When used together, API and PNR are particularly effective to identify high-risk travellers and to confirm the travel pattern of suspected persons,” the Council explains.
The implementation of these measures will also enable border authorities to have an overview of arriving passengers at airports, and passengers themselves will not have to wait long times at airport checks and have a smoother passport check process.
The EU Commission has now started negotiations, and once an agreement is reached, new rules will enter into force, ultimately including Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.