EU Likely to Close Deal with Washington on New Anti-Terror Passenger Data

Sept. 27, 2006
Negotiations are to resume in Washington later Wednesday with the aim of getting final agreement.

The European Union and the United States are likely to meet an end-of-month deadline on reaching agreement on a new anti-terror passenger data deal, a diplomat close to the talks said Wednesday.

The diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks, said negotiations would resume in Washington later Wednesday with the aim of getting final agreement. "There is a prospect of having a deal," he said.

He confirmed EU negotiators were optimistic they would reach a deal by Thursday at the latest, two days ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline imposed by an EU court. He refused to elaborate on what the outstanding issues were.

Failure to reach a deal could cause a massive disruption in trans-Atlantic travel.

Washington has warned that without the agreement, airlines failing to share passenger information face fines of up to US$6,000 (euro4,700) per passenger and the loss of landing rights.

Ambassadors from the 25 EU governments discussed progress in the negotiations behind closed doors earlier Wednesday, diplomats said.

EU spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said on Monday that the last round of negotiations held by teleconference between Washington and Tampere, Finland last week had made progress.

Reaching a deal before the court deadline was an EU priority to ensure airlines could continue to legally hand over 34 pieces of data about passengers flying from Europe to U.S. destinations. Such data, known as passenger name records, include name, address and credit card details, all of which have to be transferred to U.S. authorities within 15 minutes of departure.

The EU's top court in May ruled that the deal was illegal, saying it was not using the right legal basis under EU law. It did not rule on the deal's content. An EU court has allowed the data to keep flowing until Sept. 30 to give officials time to negotiate a new deal.

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