EU: Travel surveillance: 13 Member States have implemented the PNR Directive and 10 will apply it to intra-EU flights

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Travel surveillance: 13 Member States have implemented the PNR Directive so far, 10 will apply it to intra-EU flights
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The deadline for Member States to implement the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, which mandates the surveillance and profiling of air passengers, was 25 May. So far 13 Member States have notified their implementing measures to the European Commission, and 10 of them will be making use of the option to monitor internal EU flights.

The Directive makes it mandatory to apply surveillance and profiling measures to flights departing or entering the EU, but its application to journeys within one Member State or between two Member States is voluntary.

Previously, due to "the current security situation in Europe," all Member States indicated their intention to "make full use of the possibility provided for by Article 1a [to apply the Directive to intra-EU flights] under the conditions set by the Directive." See: EU-PNR: European Parliament has "egg on its face" (Statewatch News Online, April 2016)

According to a note published by the European Commission at the beginning of June, the following Member States will apply the Directive to intra-EU flights:

  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Croatia
  • Italy
  • Lithuania
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • UK

See: PNR: List of Member States who have decided to apply the Directive (EU) 2016/681 to intra-EU flights(European Commission, link)

Alongside these 10 Member States, Estonia, Ireland and Latvia have also notified the Commission of their national implementing measures. See: National transposition measures communicated by the Member States concerning: Directive (EU) 2016/681 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 (EUR-Lex, link)

The Directive requires passenger data from all flights entering, leaving or travelling within the EU to be handed over from airlines to 'Passenger Information Units', run by national law enforcement authorities, so that it can be cross-checked against watchlists, databases and profiles for the purposes of "preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences or serious crime."

In order to implement the Directive, which was finally approved by the European Parliament in April 2016 after a long and tortuous process, there are a number of measures that Member States and the EU must take:

  • national legislation transposing the Directive is required;
  • the national authority hosting the 'Passenger Information Unit' (PIU, responsible for processing PNR data) must be established;
  • the equipment and personnel necessary for the PIU need to be put in place;
  • the national authorities competent to request and receive raw PNR data or information processed by the PIU need to be designated; and
  • airlines need to be informed of the relevant technical requirements and ensure they are connected to the PIUs.

Further reading

Only three EU Member States have transposed the PNR Directive into national law - the deadline for the rest is 25 May 2018(13 March 2018)

PNR for all: UN Security Council mandates worldwide air travel surveillance and profiling, biometric collection, terrorist watchlists (8 January 2018)

PNR Directive: USA offers a helping hand to EU air travel surveillance and profiling efforts (14 June 2017)

PNR: €70 million for swift implementation of travel surveillance and profiling infrastructure(21 December 2016)

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