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EU counter-terrorism policy

Proposing false solutions to create pretence of security at odds with citizens' interest

Ahead of the informal meeting of EU interior ministers on counter-terrorism in Riga, a leaked document (1) confirmed that the European Commission is seeking to tweak and retable a stalled legislative proposal on a European air passenger data system (PNR). Commenting on the Riga council and the draft PNR proposals, Green home affairs spokesperson Jan Philipp Albrecht stated:

"This leak makes clear that the Commission is planning to serve up a re-heated version of the existing, stalled proposal for an EU air passenger data surveillance system (PNR). The attacks in Paris have again underlined that blanket mass data retention does not help catch terrorists: there was no shortage of data on the perpetrators. Retabling the same tweaked PNR proposal is an affront to the democratic process, with the European Parliament already having rejected this scheme due to concerns about its impact on the fundamental rights of EU citizens. Following the crystal clear judgement by the European Court of Justice last year, which declared blanket mass surveillance measures as incompatible with EU fundamental rights, it is unthinkable that the Commission would try and bulldoze through a PNR scheme based on blanked data collection.

"EU home affairs ministers meeting in Riga must not present false solutions to create the pretence of security, such as this EU PNR scheme: this would be counter-productive and undermine the fundamental rights of ordinary EU citizens, without providing any greater security. Creating a vast data dragnet is a total waste of resources, which would be far better used to carry out targeted surveillance of real suspects and ensuring security authorities should have the means and resources to focus on specific risks and concrete suspicions, to follow any leads immediately, and to efficiently exchange information about dangerous individuals. There is also a need to tackle radicalisation in schools and prisons. This must be the focus of any new measures. Stepping up mass surveillance will undermine security and is instead a victory for fundamentalists, who are combatting precisely such democratic freedoms."

(1) The leaked paper on the Commission's revised PNR plans can be found at:

Jan Philipp Albrecht will attend the informal meeting of the justice and home affairs ministers in Riga tomorrow and Friday (29-30 January). He will be available to talk to the press on Friday at the National Library´s press centre from 12.30 to 2pm.

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