Today’s court decision means more queues and long hold-ups for Europeans at American airports once the current system is scrapped, unless a new arrangement can be reached.
The agreement between Brussels and Washington, which was blasted by civil liberties groups, was insisted on by America after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
It required European airlines to provide the US authorities with 34 pieces of information on each passenger including names, addresses and credit card information, within 15 minutes of a plane taking off. It was opposed by many European MPs as a breach of privacy laws.
But the 2004 deal was annulled not on the issue of privacy, but on the purely technical grounds that existing EU data protection law only covers commercial data, and was not wide enough in scope to cover data used for security purposes.