Last Updated on February 25, 2017
An agreement to share airline passenger data between Canada and the European Union infringes privacy rights and needs to be redrafted, according to a key EU adviser.
The deal, aimed at fighting terrorism, was agreed between the two sides in 2014, but still needs to be signed and passed into law.
It allows the sharing of information including names, contact details, ticket details, travel dates and itineraries.
The concern is the scope of the data collection under the so-called Passenger Name Record (PNR) goes further than what is needed for preventing terrorism and other crime. There is also a worry that Canadian authorities would have the power to forward the data to a third party stakeholder.
Changes needed in order for the deal to be signed include a requirement for sensitive data not to be collected, an exhaustive list of offences, and for only people reasonably suspected of terrorism to be targeted.
Canada says it remains committed to getting the deal ratified.
The EU and Canada are currently negotiating on a number of different fronts, including visa reciprocity and a free trade deal that is several years in the making.
New EU rules say countries granted visa-free travel to the Schengen zone must do the same in return for all member states.
Canada currently requires a visa for Romanians and Bulgarians, saying it does not operate a reciprocal policy when it comes to visas.
Key Facts on Canada-EU Visa Reciprocity
- EU introduced rule in 2014 saying all countries with visa-free access must provide same privilege for all member states.
- Countries including Canada and US given two years to comply.
- Canada does not allow visa-free travel for Bulgarians or Romanians.
- Deadline expired on April 12, was extended to July 12.
- No agreement likely to mean Canadians will need visas to travel to Schengen area (not including UK and Ireland).
- Romanians using recent lifting of Mexican visa requirement as part of their argument.
An April 12 deadline was set for an agreement to be reached, and this was extended to July 12 when no deal was forthcoming.
Immigration Minister John McCallum flew to Brussels for talks in July, but the outcome was only a holding statement. It seems neither side has the appetite to impose a visa, which would dramatically increase administrative costs.
These negotiations took place as Canada was trying to get the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) deal ratified.
Key Facts on CETA
- Canada-EU trade deal has been 7 years in the making.
- Would eliminate duties on thousands of products, covering 95 per cent of everything Canada sells to Europe
- Would give Canada car manufacturers, plus beef and pork producers, significant access to EU markets.
- Initially faced fierce opposition in France and Germany.
- Opposed by one of Belgium’s four parliamentary houses.
- Romania has linked its support for deal directly to visa reciprocity.
- Formal signing of deal was expected in October, but now likely to de delayed.
- ‘Brexit’ created further uncertainty due to Britain’s involvement in the deal.
It is due to be signed in October, although Romanian officials have been outspoken in tying their support for the deal to the visa reciprocity disagreement.
Meanwhile, Britain`s vote to exit the EU has also thrown the deal into doubt.
British lawmakers are said to have been the driving force behind getting the agreement on the table
Some analysts expect the deal to go through in its current form, with Britain’s future involvement becoming part of talks on its EU departure. The deal is expected to boost trade by 20 per cent between the two sides.
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