The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice on Thursday issued an opinion stating that the draft agreement on a Passenger Name Record between EU and Canada “cannot be entered into in its current form”. The European Parliament brought the agreement to the Court due to concerns over its compatibility with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in November 2014, before a final plenary vote on the deal.
This was the first time that Parliament asked that a PNR agreement be given a preliminary check by the Court. The decision was taken when MEPs approved a resolution calling for a legal opinion on the compatibility of the Agreement on the transfer and processing of air passenger data between Canada and the European Union with the EU Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Reacting to today’s opinion from the Advocate General, Parliament’s rapporteur Sophie In’t Veld (ALDE, NL) said:
"The Advocate General clearly states that the Agreement in its current form is in breach with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and cannot be signed as it stands. I hope the Court will quickly follow with its final opinion, in order to have the much needed clarity on the compatibility of the agreement with EU data protection legislation."
“The Advocate General underlines, among others, that the purposes for which the personal data can be used are not sufficiently limited, and that it has not been justified on the basis of objective evidence that the data storage period of maximum five years is necessary. Moreover, the opinion states that the agreement is only compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights if the use of PNR data is targeting persons who can be reasonably suspected of crime or terrorism”.
"Following the very first ECJ Ruling on PNR in 2006, the Schrems ruling scrapping Safe Harbour and the annulment of the Data Retention Directive, this opinion again shows the importance of Better Lawmaking also in the area of counter terrorism"
Parliament will now await the final ruling by the European Court of Justice. According to the procedures, Parliament would have to approve an EU Canada PNR agreement before it can enter into force.
The agreement between the EU and Canada was signed on 25 June 2014 and the Council requested the European Parliament’s consent to it on 8 July 2014. The decision to refer it to the Court was taken on 25 November 2014.