EU ministers agree on sharing airline passenger information system
The European Union has agreed on a system to share airline passenger information, paving the way for closer scrutiny of extremists.
Spurred into action by the attacks in Paris, EU interior ministers granted law enforcement agencies access to information gathered by airlines such as names, travel dates, itinerary, credit cards and contact details.
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.
Luxembourg deputy prime minister Etienne Schneider, who chaired the meeting in Brussels, expressed his "pride that after so many years of negotiations we have now been able to conclude an agreement".
The so-called passenger name record agreement proposal was first made in 2007, but has languished in the European Parliament for more than two years as policy-makers struggled to strike the right balance between security concerns and privacy rights.
The assembly must still endorse the deal but that seems a formality and is likely to happen in the next month.
At least 5,000 Europeans are believed to have trained or fought in Syria and Iraq but authorities are struggling to track their movements and prove their activities.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve described the system as "indispensable in the fight against terrorism".
The EU already has such passenger data deals with the US, Canada and Australia.