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Source: European Union

As announced today by President Jean-Claude Juncker at the Europa Connectivity Forum: EU-Asia Connectivity, the European Commission has recommended that the Council authorise the start of negotiations for an EU-Japan Agreement to allow the transfer and use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data in order to prevent and combat terrorism and serious transnational crime. The Agreement will set out the framework and conditions for the exchange of PNR data, in full respect of data protection safeguards and fundamental rights, in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. 

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Japan is a strategic partner in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. Today we are taking this cooperation one step further – it is only by working together that we can enhance global security.”

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “Passenger Name Record (PNR) data helps us to identify suspicious travel patterns and track down dangerous criminals and terrorists. It is important that we share this data with close partners like Japan, strengthening our security cooperation, and that we do so in full respect of data protection standards.”

The EU and Japan are long standing strategic partners, including in the fight against terrorism and serious crime, as reaffirmed in the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in July 2018. The Partnership Agreement specifically encourages both parties to use “available tools, such as passenger name records to prevent and combat acts of terrorism and serious crimes”. The opening of negotiations for an EU-Japan PNR Agreement further highlights the key strategic partnership between the EU and Japan.

The Commission recommendation to start negotiations with Japan for the transfer of data of passengers flying between the EU and Japan will ensure that a future Agreement:

·    Regulates the transfer and use of PNR data for the sole purpose of preventing and combating terrorism and other serious transnational crime;

·    Sets out the necessary safeguards and controls with respect to the protection of personal data, fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals, in line with the requirements set in the case law of the Court of Justice;

·    Limits the access and processing of PNR data exclusively to the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorism and other serious transnational crime;

·    Ensures the rights of effective administrative and judicial redress for passengers on a non-discriminatory basis.

Earlier this year, the Commission adopted an adequacy decision on Japan, allowing personal data to flow freely between the two economies on the basis of strong protection guarantees.

Next Steps

It is now for the Council to consider the recommendation and to adopt a Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with Japan. The final Agreement will be concluded by the Council once it has obtained the consent of the European Parliament.

The Commission will keep both the Council and the Parliament informed about the progress of the negotiations.


Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, stored in airlines’ reservation systems, is information that is provided by passengers to airlines when booking flights and checking-in for flights. It includes information such as the passenger’s name, travel dates, travel itineraries, seat number, baggage, contact details and means of payment.

Criminals and terrorists increasingly operate across borders and their activities often involve international travel. The processing of PNR data is considered both within the EU and globally to be an important and effective tool to prevent and counter security threats. It helps to trace suspicious travel patterns and identify potential criminals and terrorists, including those previously unknown to law enforcement authorities.

The EU PNR Directive, adopted on 27 April 2016, is an essential instrument in the Union’s response to the threat of terrorism and serious crime and a building block of a genuine and effective Security Union.

At a global level, with its Security Council Resolution 2396, the UN calls on all its Member States to “develop the capability to collect, process and analyse PNR data”, while urging the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to work with its Member States to establish a standard for the processing of PNR data. The Commission actively supports the work done is this area by ICAO, and has submitted a proposal for a Union position to the Council on 13 September 2019.

At present, the EU has two international PNR Agreements in force with Australia and the United States. Following the Opinion of the Court of Justice of the EU on the EU-Canada PNR Agreement, the Commission received an authorisation from the Council to launch new PNR negotiations with Canada. The negotiations were launched in June 2018 and their conclusion was welcomed at the EU-Canada Summit on 17-18 July. Both sides committed to finalise the Agreement as soon as possible.

For More Information

Recommendation for Council Decision to authorise negotiations for an Agreement between the European Union and Japan for the transfer and use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data

Annex: Directives for the negotiation of an Agreement between the European Union and Japan for the transfer and use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data

Proposal for a Council Decision on the position to be taken on behalf of the EU in the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in respect of the revision of Chapter 9 of Annex 9 to the Chicago Convention on standards and recommended practices on Passenger Name Record data

Press release – European Commission adopts adequacy decision on Japan, creating the world’s largest area of safe data flows


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