June 22, 2006

EU agrees to act on passenger info accord with US

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union agreed on Thursday
to safeguard an anti-terrorism measure requiring EU states to
supply advance details of passengers heading to U.S. airports.

A 2004 agreement to supply the names, addresses, payment
details and telephone numbers of passengers was struck down by
the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice, last
month on a legal technicality.

EU ambassadors meeting in Brussels on Thursday agreed that
the EU Presidency accompanied by the executive Commission would
seek to strike a new agreement using the same language in the
2004 deal, but enshrining it within a different legal
framework, an EU diplomat said.

"It should be finished by October 1," he said, referring to
the date when the existing accord expires.

EU Parliament deputies had raised concerns that the
transfer of passenger data breached privacy rights, but the
European Court of Justice ruled on May 30 only against the
legal framework of the two-year-old accord.

The Commission hopes it can overcome the objection raised
in the court under laws pertaining to the provision of services
in the European Union by re-basing the agreement on articles of
law pertaining to security and the fight against organized

Such a move will mean the European Parliament no longer has
any formal say over the measure. It will have to be ratified by
member states but can take effect provisionally even before the
ratification process is complete, a spokesman said for EU
Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said earlier this month.

Washington has said it is confident the EU can overcome the
court's objections and there will be no impact on air traffic.