EU laggards urged to accelerate anti-terror preparations

Spurred by a wave of extremist attacks in France and Belgium, the European Parliament in April adopted the Passenger Name Record (PNR) system after resolving privacy concerns that had prevented agreement for some five years.

EU laggards urged to accelerate anti-terror preparations

World Bulletin / News Desk

EU officials on Wednesday urged nearly a dozen laggard member states to accelerate their preparations to join by 2018 a bloc-wide system to share passenger information to help detect extremists.

Europe's new security commissioner Julian King and home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday underscored the need for the 28 EU member states to step up efforts to fight extremism, including preparations for the PNR.

"Everybody has accepted that by spring of 2018 we need to have this system operational and that means we have built the IT and other infrastructure that is necessary to make PNR effective," King told a press conference in Brussels, flanked by Avramopoulos.

He said it was unfortunate that only a few member states are now ready with the information technology and other infrastructure, while a "significant number" have plans for putting them in place.

"But 11 member states do not yet have plans in hand to be able to implement effectively by spring 2018," King said, as he made it clear that those nations were not in violation of any EU rules.

He said the 11 were Greece, Poland, Austria, Germany, Cyprus, Malta, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and Ireland.

He said EU funds and expertise are available to help them set up the system.

The PNR legislation requires airline firms to share passenger data -- such as travel dates, itineraries, passport details and phone numbers -- with authorities in EU destination countries. 

The goal is to detect, for example, individuals who have not been flagged by authorities as presenting a threat but whose travel patterns raise suspicions.

It would then be up to one country to alert another or send a specific request for data from another country as part of an investigation. 

It would apply to flights to and from destinations outside the EU, but member states could also apply them to flights within the bloc.

King and Avramopoulos also said an agreement should be reached before the end of the year on a proposal by the European Commission to set up a legal framework to tackle extrem threats effectively, including from extremist militants returning from Syria and Iraq.

Last Mod: 12 Ekim 2016, 16:01
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