The debate surrounding the implementation of a European passenger name record system (EUPNR) rages on. During this week's plenary session, MEPs voted in favour of a resolution condemning the terrorist attacks in Paris and calling for heightened security measures.
Among these measures was PNR. Unsurprisingly, rapporteur Timothy Kirkhope called this "the most positive statement the European parliament has given on PNR in several years", promising to "present a revised report on [the issue] at the end of February and I trust progress will then be swift to reach an agreement well before the end of the year".
However, he warned, "I am not prepared to let it become a political football", stressing, "we have a committee system in the parliament, and I intend to go through the proper processes and respect the committee, not engage in backroom deals between two or three political group leaders."
Commenting on the result of the vote, EPP vice-chair Esteban González Pons said it was a case of MEPs showing "unity in their abhorrence of terror and barbarity and that they are ready to prevent it".
"We have a committee system in the parliament, and I intend to go through the proper processes and respect the committee, not engage in backroom deals between two or three political group leaders" - Timothy Kirkhope
Monika Hohlmeier, the centre-right group's spokesperson on parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, added, "we have sent a strong signal that we want to adopt the EUPNR directive by the end of the year, or even before that - provided everyone shows good will."
For ALDE group president Guy Verhofstadt, "the council has to do its homework as well - it should unblock major files such as the strengthening of Europol, the strengthening of Eurojust and the directive on data protection". He promised that "parliament commits itself to work quickly".
Socialist group president Gianni Pittella said, "Europe won't be a hostage to the strategies of fear and tension - we cannot give in to the blackmail of those who are keen to trade off our freedom for an illusion of security".
Parliament's left-leaning groups were even more critical of the outcome of the vote. Greens/EFA spokesperson on civil liberties and home affairs asserted that MEPs were "sending the wrong message at the wrong time - the resolution agreed by the four bigger political groups provides a 'carte blanche' for
EU governments to scale back personal freedoms with measures that will fail to properly respond to the terrorist threat".
In her view, "stepping up mass surveillance will undermine security and is instead a victory for fundamentalists, who are combating precisely such democratic freedoms".
Meanwhile, GUE/NGL MEP Cornelia Ernst pointed out that "the new tools of policing, like profiling and the various forms of data retention, are received as discrimination by those affected, aggravating the daily experience of racism for many Europeans, in the double form of islamophobia and antisemitism."