Friday

20th Oct 2017

PNR deal with Canada violates rights, says EU top lawyer

An advocate-general of the European Court of Justice on Thursday (8 September) said the passenger name records (PNR) agreement with Canada "cannot be entered into in its current form."

The provisional agreement signed off in 2014 allows Canadian authorities to use and retain passenger details in their efforts to crackdown on crime and terrorism. They can also pass the collected information onto foreign authorities.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • EU parliament has held off adopting the PNR agreement with Canada. (Photo: Air Canada)

The opinion is non-binding but is likely to bear import on the court's final decision expected months later.

The European Commission, for its part, has refused to comment.

"I don't think we are going to comment on that at this stage, we are going to wait until we have the court's judgment," EU spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters in Brussels.

Defenders of the pact say it is needed in the wider war against terrorism. Critics question its merit and say the collection of data like meal preferences violates privacy and data protection.

"The necessity and proportionality of these instruments has never been demonstrated, and yet, they have been in place for years," said Estelle Masse, a senior policy analyst at Access Now, a digital rights group.

US, Australia, and EU PNRs on shaky ground

The advocate's move is likely to create a headache for a host of similar agreements between the EU and the United States and Australia. Another EU-wide specific PNR agreement was also recently adopted and talks are underway for an agreement with Mexico.

Paolo Mengozzi, the advocate general behind the opinion, referred to a case law from last October that had invalidated the so-called Safe Harbour agreement with the United States.

That case is rooted in broader issues of privacy between Facebook's Irish subsidiary and Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy campaigner, and 2013 revelations of US-led mass surveillance.

Mengozzi also referenced the EU data retention law, which the court invalidated in 2014. The court declared its 24 month retention period a "serious interference" of fundamental rights.

PNR retention periods with Canada are five years and even longer in the United States.

US authorities can retain data for up to 15 years. Australians can keep it 5 and a half years and the EU's own internal PNR system allows for five year stretches.

Mengozzi also noted some of the provisions within the agreement, if applied correctly, do adhere to the charter.

However, his criticism is being hailed as a victory for rights defenders who have for years argued against PNR agreements.

“After the 2006 PNR, the Schrems and the data retention rulings, this is the umpteenth demonstration that sloppy law making is counterproductive," Dutch liberal MEP Sophie In’t Veld said in a statement.

In’t Veld, who leads the European Parliament file on the Canada deal, said the implications of opinion will be far-reaching.

"Although the court's ruling is not binding, it may have far-reaching implications for other rules and agreements on the widespread use of personal data," she said.

The Council of the EU, representing member states, signed the deal with Canada in June 2014 and then requested the EU parliament's consent.

MEPs have refused adoption until the Luxembourg-court delivers its final judgment.

MEPs set to back air-passenger data sharing

EU lawmakers are likely to pass the Passenger Name Records bill into law on Thursday despite outstanding questions on its costs, effectiveness and impact on civil liberties.

EU-Canada trade deal faces final hurdles

EU states could sign off the Canada-EU trade deal next week, if the consitutional court in Germany, or a Belgian regional parliament does not stop them.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  2. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving up to 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  5. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  9. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  10. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  11. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  12. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People