Thursday

5th Aug 2021

MEPs call for suspension of EU-US finance tracking deal

  • Swift at work: the NSA snooped on the Belgian firm, the Brazilian report said (Photo: Swift)

Press reports that the US intelligence agency secretly tapped into international bank transfer firm Swift have prompted MEPs to call for an immediate suspension of the EU-US terrorist financial tracking programme (TFTP) agreement.

"We cannot continue loyal co-operation in data exchange with US Authorities with this NSA dark cloud hanging over our heads,” said Belgian Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt in an emailed statement on Monday (9 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

Verhofstadt, along with Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in t'Veld and German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht, wants the European Commission to suspend the TFTP agreement pending clarifications into the snooping revelation first made by Globo TV, a Brazilian television network.

"If it is to be consistent, the European Parliament must act on this and press the European Commission to terminate the agreement. Failure to do so would be an act of hypocrisy," said Albrecht.

The network said Google, the Brazilian energy company Petrobas, the French ministry of foreign affairs, and the Belgium-based Swift company are NSA targets.

Globo TV based its report on leaked documents from the former NSA agent turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In t'Veld has requested the commission suspend the agreement, which gives agents from the US treasury department access to data on Europeans' financial transactions in a bid to identify terrorist money.

“If proven to be true, then I don't see how such cooperation can be continued," she noted.

The EU signed off on the TFTP agreement with the US in 2010 under the condition that strict privacy rules would be met.

The commission at the time said the agreement includes data protection guarantees restricting US use of the information.

“The EU will also have the right to terminate the agreement in the event of breach of any of the data protection safeguards,” said EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in a memo in April 2010.

A commission delegation was sent to Washington over the summer in a pre-scheduled evaluation to determine if the Americans are respecting the terms.

For his part, US secretary of state John Kerry in London on Monday, said the US is committed to strengthening its relations with both the UK and the EU in a wider effort to secure a free trade pact.

“We are committed to making both the US-UK and the US-EU relationships even stronger drivers of our prosperity,” he said.

The EU and US held its first round of negotiations into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership last month.

Both Germany and France had called to postpone the trade negotiations in July following the initial NSA snooping scandal reported by the Guardian but then backed off after the US offered to set up more working groups on data protection.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

News in Brief

  1. EU secures deal with Novavax for potential Covid-19 vaccine
  2. France fined €10m for failing to tackle air pollution
  3. Fire near Athens forces thousands to evacuate
  4. EU to Lebanon: 'deliver results' on Beirut blast probe
  5. Belarus opposition leader demands regime end
  6. Croatia's border-monitoring of migrant rights 'falls short'
  7. Court stops Austria's Afghan deportation, as conflict worsens
  8. 'Missing' Belarus exiles group chief found dead in Kyiv

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals
  2. WHO calls for vaccine-booster pause to help poor countries
  3. Romania selling on its jabs, despite low vaccination rates
  4. Cyprus' Varosha is Erdogan's canary in the coalmine
  5. Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases
  6. Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion
  7. Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania
  8. Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us