BRUSSELS: EU airline passenger data collected to combat serious crime must take into account fundamental rights and be limited to what is strictly necessary, Europe's top court said on Tuesday.

"The Court considers that respect for fundamental rights requires that the powers provided for by the PNR Directive be limited to what is strictly necessary," the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said.

"In the absence of a genuine and present or foreseeable terrorist threat to a member state, EU law precludes national legislation providing for the transfer and processing of the PNR data of intra-EU flights and transport operations carried out by other means within the European Union," judges said.

The case is C-817/19 Ligue des droits humains. (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee)