The European Socialists and Democrats, the most progressive force in the European Parliament, today in Brussels warned EU Governments that their pointless opposition to the adoption of new data protection rules is blocking other related legislation, including the exchange of EU passenger name records in the fight against terrorism.
Birgit Sippel MEP, S&D spokesperson on civil liberties, justice and home affairs, said:
"As long as EU Governments oppose the adoption of new rules on data protection, it will be impossible for the European Parliament to pass a European PNR system (Passenger Name Records) by the end of 2014, as requested by the European Council.
"Last April the European Court of Justice declared the data retention directive invalid for violating citizens' fundamental rights. We cannot make the same mistake twice. We first need legal clarity on whether and under which conditions data retention schemes are compatible with European fundamental rights.
"The current Commission proposal on EU PNR still lacks solid safeguards when it comes to data protection and other fundamental rights provisions. The Council therefore, needs to make significant progress on data protection reform in particular on the proposed directive on data protection in the law enforcement and judicial cooperation sector.
"We also have serious doubts as to the necessity for and proportionality of an EU PNR system of this kind. If the Council wants such a system, they have to demonstrate beyond doubt that this proposal is fully in line with the EU Charter. The burden of proof is on the Member States now".
S&D vice-president Jörg Leichtfried MEP said:
"The mass and indiscriminate retention of data without any concrete suspicion does not make Europe safer. The current debate is fuelled by populism rather than substance. Successful crime prevention should not be based on restricting civil liberties and data protection. Furthermore, collecting, storing and managing such a huge volume of data would only serve to tie up resources which could be more effectively used elsewhere.
"We Socialists and Democrats will not be rushed into a decision that has potentially severe consequences for the civil liberties of EU citizens and risks being scrapped by the European Court."