The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament, has criticised the European Court of Justice’s advisor for delivering “an irresponsible piece of advice” that would strip the EU-Canada counter-terror Passenger Name Records (PNR) agreement of most of its value.

Although not the final ruling of the court, the Advocate-General’s opinion is upheld around 80% of the time. He said the proposed EU-Canada PNR agreement, which would see basic passenger information transferred to Canada for detecting serious criminals and terrorists, needs to be substantially changed to make it compatible with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Responding to the opinion, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Justice and Home Affairs spokesman of the ECR group, said: “This opinion is quite frankly irresponsible. Given the level of the threat you have to ask what planet some of these lawyers live on. Law enforcement authorities all say we are continually playing catch-up on information flow and analysis, and the ECJ now risks setting back our efforts even further.”

Kirkhope said the opinion threatens the fight against terrorism and child exploitation, trafficking and drug smuggling.

“In more than 30 years of working in security I believe this agreement was wholly proportionate and with very strong safeguards for data protection. If we do not have this agreement in place then passengers will not benefit from the high safeguards that we have included within it. In this dangerous world we need some common sense from policy-makers, that today has been lacking from the ECJ.”