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EU unveils new anti-terror package

The European Commission on Tuesday unveiled a package of measures in the fight against terrorism, including the collection of air passenger data.

Under the proposals, 19 pieces of personal information of air passengers flying to and from European Union (EU) countries will be collected and kept for 13 years. The so-called passenger name record (PNR) data include a phone number, email address and payment details so that law enforcement authorities can track down the air passenger for investigation.

The collection of PNR data mirrors a practice of the United States although the measures would not apply to internal flights within the EU. The package also contains proposals that would criminalize terrorist training, recruitment and public provocation to commit terrorist offenses, including via the Internet. It also deals with the prevention of the use of explosives by terrorists. „We cannot be complacent.

We have to continue striking the right balance between being aware of the threat (of terrorism) and taking adequate and proportionate measures, both at European and national level, to prevent it,” said European Commission Vice President Franco Frattini, who is in charge of security and justice affairs. „Terrorists will strike whenever, wherever and with whatever means to make the most impact.” The package, however, raised concerns over the protection of civil liberties.

„Our goal remains preserving the right balance between the fundamental right to security of citizens, the right to life and the other fundamental rights of individuals, including privacy and procedural rights,” said Frattini. EU's new counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove admitted on Monday that compensatory measures are needed, so that the fight against terrorism does not shrink individual liberty.

To fight terrorism effectively, EU member states need to share information more widely, both with each other and with the EU institutions. But compensatory measures are also needed, he told a committee of the European Parliament. (