• No reasons were given for the delay (Photo: European Commission)

EU-US deal on data transfer on hold

12.05.04 @ 17:43

  1. By Sharon Spiteri

BRUSSELS - The European Commission today (12 May) decided to delay a decision on the controversial transfer of air passenger data to the US.

"No decision will be taken today", the Commission spokesperson for internal market said on Wednesday. "I cannot say more".

The Commissioners were expected to take a decision on last December's agreement on the legal transfer to the US of information on passengers including name, address, phone number, credit cards and their traveling companions.

Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino hinted on Monday during a visit in the US that approval was likely.

"I don't want to anticipate those decisions, but [it is] likely those decisions will be in favour", he said.

However the Commissioners today decided to delay taking a decision on the matter.

The US has been requesting the data since the 11 September attacks in 2001 in order to combat terrorist threats.

Airlines failing to provide passenger data to US security agencies within 15 minutes of a flight’s departure already face the possibility of fines of 6,000 euro per passenger or potential loss of landing rights in the US.

The European Parliament 's position is that the transfer of such personal data breaches EU privacy laws, and voted to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.