BRUSSELS — The European Union acted illegally when it agreed to transfer airline passenger data to the United States as part of American efforts to fight terrorism, the bloc's highest court said Tuesday.
The United States, the executive European Commission and European airlines said the ruling would have no immediate effect on transatlantic air travel and left time to find a solution to the data transfer issue.
Under a May 2004 EU-U.S. agreement, European airlines have been obliged to give U.S. authorities 34 items of information on passengers flying to the United States, including name, address, all forms of payment and contact telephone numbers.
The European Parliament challenged the deal, contending that it had no legal basis and infringed on fundamental rights.
The European Court of Justice ruled that the EU Council of Ministers' decision to sign the agreement lacked an adequate legal basis.
It gave the European Commission and member states four months to find a solution. The court did not rule out the lawmakers' claims that the deal infringed on passengers' privacy.