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MEPs voice grave concerns over Russia's demand for EU air passengers' data

Russia's decree that European airlines must supply it with EU air passengers' personal data is a "very worrying issue" that could set a precedent for other countries, said Civil Liberties Committee MEPs in a debate with Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on Monday evening.

In July 2012 the Russian Transport Ministry issued a decree requiring European airlines to supply it with EU air passengers' personal "Passenger Name Record" (PNR) data, from 1 July 2013. This also applies to overflights.

On Monday evening, MEPs voiced serious concerns about this demand. Some warned that it could set a precedent for other countries to follow suit, while others agreed that the planned review of the current visa facilitation deal with Russia could be used "as leverage" to counter Russia's decree.

Some MEPs argued that introducing a system to collect PNR data at EU level could help the EU to "negotiate on a firmer footage" in these cases. However, others questioned the need for an EU PNR system to gather data on EU citizens where there are no grounds for suspicion. They also criticised the European Commission for failing to deal with this situation as soon as it arose.

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