Saturday

15th Aug 2020

US links EU security partnership to bank data deal

  • US national security advisor James Jones (l) and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (m) (Photo: Munich Security Conference/Kai Moerk)

US national security advisor James Jones on Saturday (6 February) reassured Europe that the transatlantic partnership continues to be strong, but underlined the need for the European Parliament to allow American investigators to access EU banking data to track terrorism funding.

"It has become fashionable in some quarters to suggest that the United States has somehow neglected the trans-Atlantic partnership. But ...Europe today is our indispensable partner," Mr Jones said at the Munich security conference, a yearly forum for high-level officials to air their views on international security and defence matters.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He indicated that there were some potential glitches in the relationship. He mentioned a crucial vote due in the European Parliament this Thursday (11 February), which could derail an existing agreement allowing the US to track intra-European banking transactions in the search for terrorism funding.

"This programme has safeguards. It protects privacy. It has prevented terrorist attacks and saved lives, including here in Europe. And with the European Parliament's support for sustaining this important agreement, the United States looks forward to further co-operation in this area with our European partners to protect our citizens on both sides of the ocean though an agreement called the Terrorist Finance Tracking programme," Mr Jones said.

His public calls come after last week's vote in a key EU parliamentary committee for the deal to be scrapped because of what MEPs consider insufficient data protection safeguards and because of an institutional quarrel with member states, who negotiated the agreement.

US foreign policy chief Hillary Clinton has held phone conversations with both the European Parliament's president Jerzy Buzek and her EU counterpart Catherine Ashton on the matter.

Ms Clinton also wrote a letter to Mr Buzek together with US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, in which they "convey their hope" that the Thursday vote will be positive, parliament sources told EUobserver.

The US officials said they supported the view of the parliament in its discussion with the council of ministers, that EU states should disclose all the relevant information to the legislature relating to negotiations for a final agreement on bank data.

EU ambassadors in Brussels are set to hold a special meeting on the matter on Monday (8 February). If no concessions were made from the side of the council, parliament sources say, the agreement is likely to be voted down on Thursday.

Spanish bonanza

The state of EU-US relations hit the headlines last week when President Barack Obama indicated he would not attend a bilateral summit due to take place in Madrid in May.

The US State Department said that Mr Obama's decision, widely portrayed as a snub, was partly due to institutional confusion caused by the EU's new Lisbon Treaty.

Spanish foreign minister Angel Miguel Moratinos, also present at the Munich gathering, praised the transatlantic relationship. "The new Europe still needs the US, and the US will always have in Europe its most reliable and capable partner," he said.

Clinton calls parliament chief over bank data deal

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has called EU parliament chief Jerzy Buzek to voice concern over a vote due next Thursday in which MEPs could scrap a deal allowing American investigators to track down terrorist funding via European bank transactions.

US blames Lisbon Treaty for EU summit fiasco

The US State Department has said that President Barack Obama's decision not to come to an EU summit in Madrid in May is partly due to confusion arising from the Lisbon Treaty.

Column

Lebanon is a new focal point

More than the tangible destruction, the explosion in the port of Beirut meant the ultimate destruction of hope for many civilians.

News in Brief

  1. Most EU states oppose US sanctions on Russia pipeline
  2. UK imposes quarantine on France, Netherlands, Malta
  3. At least 3.5m EU nationals to stay in UK
  4. UK urged to 'calm down' on migrants
  5. Pompeo starts EU tour with anti-Chinese 5G deal
  6. Dutch lawsuit seeks billions from tech firms
  7. Amazon people urge EU banks to stop funding pollution
  8. Russia vaccine could be "dangerous", Germany says

Feature

The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us