PARIS — The European Union’s highest court ruled Tuesday that the Union had overstepped its authority by agreeing to give the United States personal details about airline passengers on flights to America in an effort to fight terrorism. The decision will force the two sides to renegotiate the deal at a time of heightened concerns about possible infringements of civil liberties by the Bush administration in its campaign against terrorism, and the extent to which European governments have cooperated. The ruling gave both sides four months to approve a new agreement, and American officials expressed optimism that one could be reached. But without an agreement, the United States could take punitive action, in theory even denying landing rights to airlines that withhold the information. That could cause major disruptions in trans-Atlantic air travel, which accounts for nearly half of all foreign air travel to the United States. The European Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg, found that the European Commission and the European Council lacked the authority to make the deal, which was reached in May 2004. Specifically, the court said passenger records were collected by airlines for their own commercial use, so the European […]

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