On 21 June, the European Council agreed on the negotiating mandate for two legislative proposals on the collection and transfer of advance passenger information. The goal of the two draft laws is to facilitate border management at the EU’s external borders as well as to fight terrorism and serious crime.
Advance passenger information (API) contains identification details from the travel document and basic flight information. Having complete and timely information about travellers is essential to fight serious crime and terrorism. However, under current rules, the collection and processing of API data by competent authorities is inconsistent across the EU. The proposal aims to close this security gap.
Better travel data collection will contribute to fighting crime more efficiently and help border guards stop illegal crossings, as well as making it easier to travel by air.Gunnar Strömmer, Swedish Minister for Justice
The two regulations will put in place a router that receives the API data transferred to it by air carriers. The router, in turn, transmits API data to national border and law enforcement authorities. The development of a single router, a central tool which will be developed by an EU agency, makes it easier for air carriers to transfer the information to national authorities and reduces the risk for errors and abuse.
The two laws stipulate what API data air carriers must collect and transfer to the router, which will consist of a closed list of traveller information such as name, date of birth, nationality, type and number of the travel document, seating information and baggage information. In addition, air carriers will be obliged to collect certain flight information, for instance the flight identification number, the airport code and time of departure and arrival.
The new law will enable law enforcement authorities to combine travellers’ API data and passenger name records (PNR). The PNR is a larger set of air passenger data and contains details about the itinerary of a passenger and information of the flight booking process. When used together, API and PNR are particularly effective to identify high-risk travellers and to confirm the travel pattern of suspected persons.
Border authorities will get a more complete view of travellers arriving at airports. They will be able to perform pre-checks before arrival and therefore manage their border controls more efficiently. This should increase the chances of preventing unwanted border crossings, while passengers should benefit from shorter waiting times and smoother passport checks.