* EU worried by Russian air data decree
* Request to be made at EU-Russia summit
* Russia to introduce measure July 1
By Claire Davenport and Steve Gutterman
BRUSSELS/MOSCOW, June 3 The European Union will
ask Russia to delay the introduction of a decree allowing
authorities there to collect data on European airline passengers
because of doubts over whether the new rules respect EU law, EU
officials said on Monday.
European airlines are not supposed to share passenger data
without an international agreement setting out which authorities
can access the data, for how long and why.
The European Union has signed such agreements with the
United States and Australia to share information such as
passengers' itineraries to help fight serious crime.
But Russia plans to introduce an airline data-sharing
measure on July 1 without a prior agreement with the EU, raising
concerns in the 27-nation bloc.
"We cannot have a situation in which European-registered
airlines are compelled to do something that is against EU law,"
an EU source said.
EU officials will formally ask the Russian government for a
moratorium on the entry into force of the measure at an
EU-Russia summit in Yekaterinburg, EU sources said. The two-day
summit starts on Monday evening.
"This could have an extremely damaging effect on travel
between Russia and the EU," a second EU source said.
Under the decree, Russian authorities would collect the data
of passengers on flights taking off or landing in Russia, or
crossing its airspace, another EU official said.
A European Commission spokesman told reporters in Brussels
on Monday the EU executive regretted that Russian authorities
did not tell them of their intention to request passenger data
from airlines operating between the EU and Russia.
The Commission is not yet aware exactly what the Russian
measure will require European airlines to do, which Russian
authority would be collecting the information and for how long
it would be kept.
"That is why we are worried," a Commission source said.
Passenger data sent by airlines to officials in the United
States and Australia can also include ticket information,
contact details, the travel company that made the booking and
the means of payment, including credit card numbers.
Russian officials have indicated the measure is aimed at
improving their ability to track potentially suspicious
travellers for security purposes.
Russian Transport Ministry officials could not immediately
be reached for comment on Monday. A spokesman for the Russian
mission to the EU said he could not comment.
If Russia agrees to suspend its decree, an EU-Russia
data-sharing deal could take years to finalise.
The EU's data-sharing agreements with Australia and the
United States were fraught with disagreement because lawmakers
in the European Parliament and civil rights organisations
campaigned for more restrictive terms such as reducing how long
the data can be kept by other countries. A similar agreement
with Canada is currently being finalised.
The Association of European Airlines said it would prefer a
global treaty on passenger data to overcome any legal
uncertainties. "Now we have to deal with this on a
country-by-country basis and that is not really efficient,"
spokeswoman Viktoria Vajnai said.
(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Mark Potter)