EU must stop passing passenger data to US

30 May 2006

EU must stop passing passenger data to US

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) yesterday ruled that the EU must stop passing data on passengers to the US. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the American authorities have been demanding detailed information on all citizens of EU member states travelling to the US. According to the Court, however, this is illegal. Commenting on the ruling, SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard said: “This is an important victory for European citizens and for the European Parliament.”

The court declared the passing of personal data to be illegal on the basis of a technicality, and breach of privacy was not taken into account in the justices’ argument. For Ms Liotard, however, “It is nevertheless good that the agreement is no longer in effect. This at least means that it will have to be discussed again, which will give us a further chance to present our concerns.”

Exactly two years ago the European Council – that’s to say, the heads of EU governments – accepted America’s meddling in European affairs, taking no account of the Parliament’s concerns. “We wanted the ECJ to examine the matter before any decision was taken,” Liotard explains, “but the European Council wouldn’t wait. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.”

The SP has also opposed the handing over of data by the Netherlands’ authorities, but Justice Minister Piet-Hein Donner has refused to heed the party’s concerns. “Since the events of 11 September 2001 we have seen the inexorable rise of intrusive ‘security measures’ emanating from the US,” SP Member of Parliament and Justice and Home Affairs spokesman Jan de Wit says. "CIA agents operating in Europe, relaxation of the extradition treaty’s rules, pressure from the US on European countries to adapt their legal systems to their wishes, the blocking of the International Criminal Court: the US is in all these ways demonstrating its lack of respect for our legal order.”

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