As Russian and EU officials embark on a two-day summit, a pressing matter is a Russian plan requiring airlines to provide Moscow with data on passengers flying to Russia. The measure would violate EU law.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was hosting European Union leaders later on Monday at the start of a two-day summit in the city of Yekaterinburg.
While the differing views between the two parties on providing arms to fighters in the Syrian civil war is likely to top the agenda, a proposal by Russia that would require airlines to provide government officials with detailed data of passengers is likely to be a topic for discussion as well.
The proposal from the Russian transport ministry says airlines starting or landing in Russia, and even airlines simply crossing Russian airspace, will be required to report passenger data to authorities in Moscow.
The measures are set to come into effect on July 1 and would also include rail, ship, and bus passengers. Once implemented, the new measures would put EU airlines at odds with EU law, which prohibits them from unconditionally handing over a passenger's personal data to a non-EU country.
In the worst case, EU airlines would be prohibited from flying to Russian destinations or using Russian airspace.
The EU has made arrangements with other counties for airlines to share passenger data. The agreement with the United States accommodates American efforts to use passenger data to combat terrorism while providing specific circumstances for how to data can be collected, stored, and used.
Monday's edition of German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted the EU's interior minister, Cecilia Malmstrom, as saying she was "extremely concerned" about Russia's plan.
mz/ng (AFP, Reuters)