Commission asked to revise EU PNR project – “It must comply with ECJ ruling and be linked to data protection package”
Thanks to decisive support from the Socialists and Democrats Group, a large majority in the European Parliament today adopted a comprehensive resolution condemning the recent attacks and urging EU institutions and countries to step up their co-operation to reinforce EU citizens’ security.
The resolution lays strong emphasis on the need to address the root causes of terrorism, by investing in "educational programmes, promoting integration, social inclusion, dialogue, participation, equality, tolerance and understanding among different cultures and religions, as well as rehabilitation programmes".
The MEPs also ruled out any proposals to suspend the Schengen system, underlining that EU countries should instead make better use of the existing intelligence and rules, which already allow, for example, for occasional document checks.
S&D president Gianni Pittella MEP said:
"Europe won't be a hostage to strategies of fear and tension. We cannot give in to the blackmail of those who are keen to trade off our freedom for an illusion of security. The insane idea of suspending Schengen has been clearly rejected.
"The fight against terrorism requires a comprehensive approach, with a mix of internal and external measures, particularly the establishment of an information and data-exchange system between the national intelligence services and increased judicial co-operation. We achieved a lot in this joint resolution on EU Passenger Name Records (PNR), in particular on the need to determine the purpose and duration of data retention, as stressed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment on the Data Retention Directive.
“The S&D Group wants an EU PNR system if that is a useful tool to fight terrorism and not to diminish our level of democracy.
"We should also be aware of the fact that even the most advanced PNR exchange won’t eradicate the terrorist threat. Therefore, we urge the European Council, along with the European Commission and the European Parliament, to promote a truly coherent and comprehensive common foreign affairs policy, with crisis resolution mechanisms in conflict areas like Nigeria, Syria, Libya, Iraq and the Middle East."
MEP Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
"All acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivations. However, we need a balanced approach to security, including an evaluation of existing measures and if needed, revisions. We therefore urge the Commission to put forward such an evaluation when presenting its new Internal Security Strategy in the spring.
"On the issue of EU Passenger Name Records (PNR), the S&D Group has achieved some very important results which will be the cornerstones for the next steps of our work with EU governments and the Commission. Indeed, for the first time a large majority of MEPs - including from the EPP - have acknowledged that the current draft EU PNR proposal needs to be revised to comply with the ECJ judgment on the Data Retention Directive.
"In addition, we have finally convinced the EPP members to change their position and adopt a specific amendment explicitly linking progress on PNR to the progress made by the Council on the data protection package."