19 June 2017
By Bryan Smyth
As a Europol report shows an expected rise in returned foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria to Europe, Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has said that EU initiatives on Passenger Name Records (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime will be vital in the protection of our citizens. PNR allows us to track terrorists.
Following the publication of Europol’s 2017 EU Terrorism report, Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has said that the implementation of the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) would give European police forces access to basic passenger details on all flights between Europe and third countries. That would allow authorities to track the movements of known terrorists and prevent them from travelling freely to and from known terrorist flashpoints like Syria and Iraq.
The Europol report stated that an increasing number of returnees is likely to strengthen domestic jihadist movements and consequently magnify the threat they pose to the EU.
MEP Clune said that authorities must be aware of the movements of returned fighters to Europe, and that PNR was a frontline defence tool.
“PNR will help authorities to identify and track terrorist’s movements and help to prevent attacks the likes of which we have seen in recent times. No one measure is fool proof in the fight against extremism but PNR allows the security services another tool in the fight to keep our cities safe from attack.
“Ireland is leading the charge on this issue. The Irish Government established a centralised Passenger Information Unit (PIU) in April 2017 to implement PNR and a bilateral agreement exists between Ireland and the UK to share Advanced Passenger Information (API) of all travellers entering the Common Travel Area by air or sea.
“In the interest of safety and security, requiring airlines to share basic passenger details such as name, passport number and flight details is a relatively minor piece of information. The world has changed and Europe is under the constant threat of attack and we must equip our security services with the tools they need to protect European citizens.
“Europe needs concrete and measured action – not rhetoric, and allowing police access to passenger’s basic data will help to improve security and identify all individuals who cross the EU’s external borders. It would let security services know who is on a plane up to 48 hours in advance.
“Of course, there is a difficult balance to be achieved here between the freedoms that we seek to defend whilst ensuring that we have the necessary means at our disposal to combat terrorism across Europe. Our goal is to strike that balance- and with PNR I believe we have found this compromise.