European Commission in a pickle over PNR

- Mexico and Argentina about to implement PNR laws requiring "the transfer of passenger data from air carriers that operate in [their] countries"

- The Commission has only 2-3 weeks to sort thus out: airlines face fines if they do not comply and would break EU law if they do

A Council of the European Union document, dated 5 March 2015, shows that the EU is facing a crisis over third country demands for PNR [Passenger Name Record] data on flights from the EU to Mexico and Argentina.

The document from the Spanish delegation: Information by the Commission on the PNR legislation adopted by Mexico and the Republic of Argentina requesting the transfer of PNR data from the EU (pdf) says that Mexico adopted PNR legislation in 2012 and has postponed implementation three times and that:

"the present moratorium will expire on the 1st April and carriers will face financial sanctions of up to 30,000 dollars per flight if they do not comply and transfer the required passenger data...

[Mexico] has clearly indicated that it will not extend the moratorium unless the EU commits to negotiating a PNR agreement setting the legal framework for the transfer of PNR data." [emphasis in original]

To make matter worse for the Commission Argentina has also adopted new PNR legislation on 24 September 2104 "which will enter into force on 24 March 2015."

Without a PNR agreement, which complies with European legislation on data protection, air carriers cannot hand over:

"the information without risking infringing EU law and in consequence will have to face financial sanctions."
The Spanish Note says that Mexico and Argentina are "strategic partners" and "important markets both for tourism investment and for our airline companies" and that it is "urgent to address the present situation" [emphasis in original]. The Spanish delegation says that the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) should "urgently" start "a constructive dialogue".

The Note also recognises that following the the adopted of EU-PNR deals with the USA, Canada and Australia "an increasing number of third countries have been asking for similar agreement: "Russia, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Brazil, Japan and Saudi Arabia."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

"It should come as no surprise to the EU that having put three PNR agreements in place that other countries now want the same. What is surprising is that with just two to three weeks to go until Mexico and Argentina implement their national laws the Commission is being ask to take "urgent" action. They have known about the Mexican law since 2102 and that of Argentina in September last year.

Reaching agreement on new PNR deals, which meet EU data protection standards, is on past evidence going to take years especially for countries whose democratic standards and privacy laws may be questionable."

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