U.S., EU Reach Agreement to Share Trans-Atlantic Flight Passenger Data

European Union and U.S. negotiators reached a deal on the sharing of trans-Atlantic air passenger data used in anti-terror investigations, diplomats said Friday.

Details of the agreement — reached a week after the two sides missed an Oct. 1 deadline — were not immediately revealed. It followed a trans-Atlantic video conference lasting at least seven hours, said EU diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity, as EU government representatives had not yet been formally notified of the deal.

Negotiators were briefing the 25 EU ambassadors of the content of the deal before more discussions by EU justice and interior ministers later Friday.

Officials scheduled an 0730GMT news conference.

The EU ministers were expected to endorse the accord, which replaces a 2004 trans-Atlantic air passenger privacy deal that the EU high court voided last May for technical reasons.

Negotiations collapsed last week when EU negotiators — seeking a simple replacement accord — could not agree to a request by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for a more routine sharing of passenger data among U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Reaching a new deal had been an EU priority to ensure airlines could continue to legally submit 34 pieces of data about passengers flying from Europe to U.S. destinations. Such data — including passengers' names, addresses and credit card details — must be transferred to U.S. authorities within 15 minutes of a flight's departure for the United States.

Washington had warned that airlines failing to share passenger data faced fines of up to US$6,000 (euro4,700) per passenger and the loss of landing rights.