Of One Shotters and Repeat-Hitters: A Retrospective on the Role of the European Parliament in the EU-US PNR Litigation
Forthcoming in B. Davies and F. Nicola (eds.) EU Law Stories (Cambridge: CUP, 2015)
18 Pages Posted: 19 May 2015
Date Written: May 13, 2015
EU International Relations has long been an Executive and Member State-dominant domain. Yet while the European Parliament is now recently empowered in international relations, with information and veto rights, its rights are enhanced only modestly by Inter-Institutional Agreements. The European Parliament has a history of expanding the constitutional boundaries of its own powers through litigation but has made limited inroads into international relations. In non-legal accounts of EU-US relations, the Parliament is portrayed as having reached the height of its empowerment, no longer able to improve the substantive content of EU-US Agreements. However, the Parliament also secured the annulment of the EU-US PNR Agreement in 2006, taken in 2004, and has acted thereafter as political guardian of citizens’ rights. Currently, there is Parliament-initiated litigation ongoing to enhance the transparency of EU transatlantic relations.
The EU-US PNR litigation represents one of one of the first major civil liberties challenges taken by the European Parliament. However, the case is not renowned for its victory on these grounds. Rather, there the Court annulled the controversial EU-US PNR agreement with sparse reasoning, and in the views of many, thereby enabled the US to avail of the legal fall-out and compel the EU to negotiate an even ‘worse’ deal.
In the midst of the recent NSA surveillance saga, the European Parliament has sought to raise its voice and conduct an inquiry and meaningfully influence EU-US relations. Thus its specific legal powers in EU-US relations and its powers to object to and suspend international agreements have come to the fore again. This paper offers a retrospective look at this litigation taken in 2004, almost a decade ago and considers its legacy upon EU law, EU-US relations, institutional balance and the role of the European Parliament as litigator.
Keywords: European Parliament; EU-US PNR; Institutional law; Litigator; Security; CJEU; Transatlantic relations; Justiciability; EU-US relations
JEL Classification: K00; K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation