by Compiled from Wire Services
Mar 24, 2016 12:00 am
European justice and home affairs ministers on Thursday called on the European parliament "as a matter of urgency" to adopt an agreement that would allow authorities to exchange airport passenger data.
The ministers issued a statement of solidarity with Belgium following an emergency meeting. The joint statement condemned the "horrific terrorist acts" on Tuesday in Brussels and described them as "an attack on our open, democratic society."
The passenger data issue has long disturbed privacy campaigners, and figures large in the debate over security versus liberties.
The United States has long pushed for better data sharing, but Europeans have balked over privacy issues.
Previously in December 2015, spurred into action by the attacks in Paris in October 2015, EU interior ministers moved to grant law-enforcement agencies access to information gathered by airlines like names, travel dates, itinerary, credit cards and contact details.
Under the passenger data deal, details would be collected from European carrier flights entering or leaving the EU, as well as from flights between member countries. Charter flights will be included, and all the information will be kept on file for six months.
The so-called passenger name record agreement proposal was first made in 2007, and it has languished in the European Parliament for more than two years as EU lawmakers struggled to strike the right balance between security concerns and people's privacy rights.