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French and British MEPs sign call for passenger list on European flights to stem terrorism
Eighteen French and British Members of the European Parliament have jointly signed a call for the urgent adoption of an EU-wide version of the Passenger Name Record (PNR), used in the USA.
The MPs are from the ruling Conservative party in Britain and Nicolas Sarkozy’s opposition right wing UMP in France.
Their joint article is published in the French newspaper Le Figaro and Britain’s The Daily Telegraph.
The idea of introducing a Passenger Name Record system in Europe has faced opposition from those MEPs who feel that it is an unacceptable intrusion into people’s private lives and worry that personal data could be misused or stolen.
The MPs declare that the “tool which we should adopt most urgently is the Passenger Name Record. Every person reserving a flight must furnish information which can be used to detect suspicious journeys of potential terrorists or dangerous criminals.”
“Collecting and exchanging data from airlines would be very valuable”, says the article. “Because only some countries have or will soon have a Passenger Name Record system, terrorists take advantage of the gaps in systems which are national only”.
“In the same way as there is no liberty without security, there can be no security without liberty,” said the MEPs, maintaining that any agreement on a European Passenger Name record “would include important guarantees to protect personal data.”
“It is regrettable that socialist and liberal groupings in the European Parliament have not given greater support to the PNR system, arguing that security should always take second place to respect for people’s private lives. For us, both can and should be treated equally.”
Among those who signed the call are French former justice ministers Rachida Dati and Michèle Alliot-Marie of the right wing UMP party;
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in early January in France, Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in mid-February that he hoped the Passenger Name Record would be in use by the end of 2015.