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'Airline data deal' for US and EU Passenger data deal for US and EU
(about 1 hour later)
US and the European Union have reached a new deal for sharing airline passenger data, officials say. The US and the European Union have struck a new deal for sharing airline passenger data.
No details were made public, but any deal would replace a lapsed agreement authorising European airlines to hand over 34 pieces of information. The new interim agreement will replace a deal struck down by the European Court of Justice in May, that allowed the US access to 34 pieces of data.
The US has demanded more information about travellers entering its airspace in the years since the 9/11 attacks. The US has sought information about air travellers since the 9/11 attacks.
EU government ministers were being formally notified of the details before information was made public. EU officials described the deal, which came after nine hours of negotiations by video conference, as a "very important result" for the EU.
EU ambassadors were due to meet in Luxembourg early on Friday to discuss the final terms of the deal. The previous deal lapsed on 1 October when both sides failed to agree on terms for a renewal.
Justice ministers from across the EU are scheduled to meet later and are expected to discuss any agreement. The new accord will expire at the end of July 2007.
Dispute Negotiations over a permanent deal will begin during an EU diplomatic visit to Washington in November.
Differences had arisen over the deal after US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff led requests to share the data across a range of US counter-terrorism agencies. Justice ministers from across the EU are scheduled to meet later on Friday to discuss and back the deal.
Previously, data had been submitted to US Customs and Border Protection, but Mr Chertoff has said that agencies including the FBI should have access to the information. New safeguards
Negotiations were also reported to have been focusing on how the US stores the data, and how the US obtains it - with the EU favouring a system where airlines "push" information to the US, instead of letting them "pull" it from databases. EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said new mechanisms had been agreed to distribute data from airlines to the US.
The EU first agreed to the data transfer in 2004, but the European Court of Justice annulled it in May 2006, on a technicality. US officials will now only be able to access data by having information "pushed" from airline computer systems.
Previously the US could "pull" data from the systems whenever it was needed.
Information will be sent to the US Department of Homeland Security, which will "facilitate" any wider distribution among other US counter-terrorism agencies, Mr Frattini said.
Addressing concerns over wider distribution of EU data, Mr Frattini said the new deal allowed easier distribution of data, but would not allow "unconditional direct electronic access" by agencies such as the FBI.
The new "push" system would be tested before the end of the year, Mr Frattini said.