Court to rule on validity of agreement on PNR data

The Court will tomorrow decide on the validity of the EU-US agreement on the sharing of passenger data.

Several MEP’s will be closely watching the Court tomorrow, as the Grand Chamber will tomorrow morning decide on the validity of Council Decision 2004/496/EC of 17 May 2004 (Case C-317/04). By this decision, the Council authorized the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the United States, in which they agreed to share information about trans-Atlantic airline passengers.

The European Parliament mainly argues that decision could not be based on Article 95 and infringes fundamental rights, in particular the right to protection of personal data and the right to private life as enshrined in Article 8 ECHR.

It also argues that since the agreement will require amendment of Directive 95/46 on the protection of personal data, the assent of the Parliament should have had been obtained in light of Article 251 EC.

According to the decision, the Council however maintains that the European Parliament should have given “an Opinion within the time-limit which, pursuant to the first subparagraph of Article 300(3) EC, the Council laid down in view of the urgent need to remedy the situation of uncertainty in which airlines and passengers found themselves, as well as to protect the financial interests of those concerned.”

The Court will also tomorrow - in a related case - decide on the validity of
Commission Decision 2004/535/EC of 14 May 2004 on the adequate protection of personal data contained in the Passenger Name Record of air passengers transferred to the United States’ Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. (Case C-318/04)

The Parliament claims that this decision was adopted ultra vires and infringes the fundamental principles of Directive 95/46/EC, the right to private life and the right to protection of personal data.

In his opinion, Advocate General L├ęger has argued that the Court should anull both decisions.

According to
EUObserver, the European parliament's civil liberties and legal affairs committees will tomorrow discuss the outcome of the rulings. Parliament has in the past refused to either endorse or reject the agreement awaiting the outcome of these cases.