Friday, 25 June 2004

European Parliament president brings suit against PNR transfers to the USA

G.W. Bush arrived in Ireland tonight for the USA-European Union summit to a rude surprise: while Air Force One was in the air en route to Shannon, Irish MEP and outgoing European Parliament President Pat Cox announced as his final act in office his decision in Dublin to ask the European Court of Justice, on behalf of Parliament, to annul both the agreement between the European Commission (EC) and the USA Department of Homeland Security on PNR data transfers, and the EC finding that the (non) protection of PNR data by the USA government is “adequate” to satisfy the EU Data Protection Directive:

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.

Support for the lawsuit challenging the legality of the PNR agreement and adequacy finding has extended from majorities of the EP committees that considered the issue and the EP plenary to the president of the EP and the leader of its largest voting block, the Liberal Democrat and Reform Group (ELDR), Graham Watson of the UK, who today reportedly “described the EU-US deal as ‘a further example of the worrying trend whereby individual rights are being overridden in the fight against terrorism.’”

The formal challenge to the actions of the USA and EC, and to their failure to heed either EU law or the will of the elected Parliament, came the day after USA Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and former head of the Transportation Security Administration James Loy had boasted in Brussels that the USA and EU had “worked closely” on the exchange of PNR data, and urged Europeans to “rise to new levels”, “come together”, and “coordinate” with the USA to adopt, through ICAO, mandatory standards for biometric passports including digital fingerprints.

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 25 June 2004, 22:57 (10:57 PM)
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