Vive Le Canada

EU and Canada sign agreement on the transfer of air passenger data
Date: Tuesday, October 04 2005
Topic:


EU and Canada sign agreement on the transfer of air passenger data

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Reference: IP/05/1216 Date: 03/10/2005

IP/05/1216

Brussels, 3 October 2005

EU and Canada sign agreement on the transfer of air passenger data
An agreement on the transfer of air passenger data is signed today between the European Community and Canada. Under the agreement, airlines flying from the EU to Canada will transfer selected passenger data to the Canadian authorities to help identify passengers who could be a security threat. The agreement strikes a good balance between security requirements and the data protection standards required under EU and Canadian law, thus making an important contribution to the fight against terrorism. It was signed in Luxembourg, in the margins of the EU’s General Affairs and External Relations Council, by United Kingdom Minister for Europe Douglas Alexander for the Presidency, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and Ambassador Jeremy Kinsman of the Canadian Mission to the European Union.

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner commented:

“I am pleased to be signing this agreement today, after over two years of painstaking work. By combining high security standards with protection for civil liberties, the agreement represents the latest concrete expression of the EU and Canada’s shared commitment to tackling global security threats such as terrorism in a manner consistent with the principles and values of our democracies.”


Vice-President Frattini welcomes the result. “It is important that we show the world we are able to maintain our human rights standards which form such a crucial part of our societies. The EU will continue to play its full part in securing data protection standards while at the same time stepping up joint action against terrorism.”

Background

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) was authorised to collect Advance Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for all persons on flights bound for Canada. This agreement gives airlines flying from the EU to Canada the legal certainty to be able to comply with the Canadian requirement to transfer data while also remaining fully compliant with EU data protection law.

The agreement is one element in a legal framework also containing:

(i) A set of Canadian commitments covering protection of the API/PNR data transferred by airlines flying from the EU to Canada. Canada has a highly developed system of personal data protection similar to that of the EU, and has committed itself to provide high levels of data protection and to ensure rights of recourse for Canadian and non-Canadian passengers should they dispute the way in which their data has been recorded or handled. Canada’s commitments are legally binding;

(ii) A Commission Decision finding the level of Canadian protection adequate under the EU’s Data Protection Directive. A Working Party of Member States Data Protection Authorities gave its positive opinion on 19 January, and a Committee of Member States representatives gave their approval on 2 May.

The agreement with Canada gives further enhanced data protection compared to the deal concluded with the US last year, and a smaller number of data elements are involved. In addition, carriers will initiate the transfer of data using the so-called “push” system.

The agreement will enter into force once notes have been exchanged confirming that the Canadian side has completed the internal regulatory changes necessary for full implementation.

For more information:

The EU's relations with Canada: http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/canada/intro/index.htm

http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/05/1216&type=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en




[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on October 5, 2005]

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