There are new rules for recording air passenger details. Know what's changing

The European Parliament has approved new legal standards on border controls, part of a wider drive to fight terrorism and illegal immigration. Find out what the new rules are.

The European Parliament (EP) gave the 'green light' to two new standards on the recording of air passenger data to the EU, improving border management and the fight against terrorism and other crimes. The rules approved in Strasbourg are useful in identifying high-risk travelers and confirming the travel patterns of suspects. Find out about the key changes coming into effect after the European elections in June.

Does law merit consensus?

Almost. The law on border control was 492 in favor, 33 against, with 10 abstentions, and the law on the use of police was 438 in favor, 35 against, with 60 abstentions. According to the Belgian leadership of the Council of the European Union, “these measures will strengthen the fight against serious crime and terrorism in the EU, complementing the processing of data from passenger identification records”. “This will strengthen border security as it will increase the possibility of avoiding unnecessary crossings. Travelers should benefit from shorter waiting times and easier passport controls.

What does the new law say?

The two approved regulations require airlines to collect and send data to authorities, complementing information already recorded in the Passenger Name Record (PNR). This data includes name, date of birth, nationality, travel document type and number, seat and baggage information, as well as flight-specific data such as identification number, flight code airport and departure and arrival times. In principle, only data is collected on flights departing from outside the EU, although states may include information on flights within the EU if there is a specific need for security services, particularly if there is a terrorist threat.

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Do the measures increase internal security?

Yes – that is, at least, the meaning of the propositions. The new rules will allow authorities to cross-reference this data with PNR data that includes additional information such as flight itinerary or booking information – particularly useful in identifying high-risk travelers and confirming suspicious individuals. Border control will be strengthened, as officials will be able to carry out checks on passengers before they land and retain data for longer than previously allowed. The agreement provides that airlines and border authorities can keep data for 48 hours and only 48 hours if, for example, passengers do not arrive at a border crossing on the scheduled date. According to the council, information should be recorded in an automated and standardized manner and sent to a centralized router that can be routed to competent authorities, improving efficiency and reducing costs and the risk of errors.

Are there safeguards in place for those targeted?

Yes, biometric information is excluded from the data to be recorded, and rules are introduced to prohibit profiling of individuals based on these records or statistics, so as not to lead to discrimination based on sex, race, language, religion. or disability, among others.

When will it come into effect?

Once approved at the political level, the laws will be vetted by legal linguists before being finalized through an amendment procedure following the June European elections. Once published in the Official Journal of the European Union, they enter into force 20 days later.

What challenges does the Schengen Area face from Parliament's point of view?

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The Schengen area has been strained by a series of crises over the past decade. The flow of migrants and asylum seekers has been seen as a threat to internal security, with some member states using the provisions of the Schengen Borders Code to introduce internal border controls. Border controls disrupt the free movement of people, goods and services across the EU. The impact is most evident in the freight sector and is felt heavily by tourists and workers alike – meaning 1.7 million European workers cross a border to work every day.

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