European Parliament to go to court over Council and Commission decisions on PNR data agreement with USA

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Statement: 25.6.04:

EP President Pat Cox has decided to ask the EU Court of Justice, on behalf of the European Parliament, to annul the Council of the Union's decision of 17 May 2004 on the conclusion of an agreement with the USA on the processing and transfer of passenger name record (PNR) data by air carriers to the United States Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. Mr Cox has also decided to appeal against the Commission decision stating that the level of protection of passenger data provided by the USA is adequate.

Mr Cox took this decision in the light of recommendations made on 16 June by the EP Legal Affairs Committee and the Conference of Presidents.

The Legal Affairs Committee had already voiced serious reservations in April about the procedure chosen by the Commission for concluding an agreement with the United States (consultation of Parliament rather than the assent procedure) as well as the risk that the agreement might infringe the fundamental right of data protection enshrined in Community law, in particular Article 286 of the EC Treaty.

In its resolution of 31 March 2004, Parliament officially warned the Commission and Council of the legal and institutional implications of these acts.

A request for the Court's opinion on the envisaged agreement, submitted by Parliament before the agreement was concluded, now becomes null and void.

Speaking in Dublin today, Pat Cox said:

"This decision was taken after widescale consultation and reflects the concern felt by a large majority in the European Parliament on the need to defend European citizens' fundamental rights and freedoms. While naturally accepting that the US Administration is perfectly free to exercise its sovereign right to protect its own homeland, both the EU and the US must guard against a new form of creeping extra-territoriality. This issue must be addressed in the context of EU-US dialogue."

Press enquiries:
David Harley, President's Spokesman tel. +32 496 599 453
Jaume Duch tél. +32 2 284 3000 mobile +32 496 59 94 76
Danny de Paepe tel. + 32 2 284 2531 email:

see for full background and documentation: Statewatch's Observatory on EU-US PNR

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