Friday

19th Jul 2019

MEPs call for delay on US bank data deal

  • The US screens certain data held by Swift as part of its fight against terrorism (Photo: SWIFT)

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek is planning to send a letter to the Council of Ministers, the EU institution representing member states, calling for a suspension of a recent agreement that was to enable the continued transfer of EU citizens' banking data to US investigators.

The decision to call for a delay to the interim deal, scheduled to enter into force on 1 February, was made by leaders of the parliament's different political groups during a meeting in Strasbourg on Thursday (21 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

MEPs were infuriated when the Council agreed the interim deal with the US on 30 November last year, just a day before the EU's new rulebook, the Lisbon Treaty, came into force, which handed the euro-deputies a greater say over data protection issues.

The controversial deal was negotiated to help the US out of a legal hole, following the relocation of the US database of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) to the Netherlands on 1 January.

"The EU Council has no right to allow the Swift agreement to take effect without the agreement of the European Parliament," said Green co-president Rebecca Harms and Green MEP Jan-Philipp Albrecht, a member of Parliament's civil liberties committee, in a statement.

"Parliament must not be bypassed by the [European] Commission and Council, which would be a breach of the Lisbon Treaty. Citizens' rights must be safeguarded," they added.

Ongoing controversy

The Swift issue has been an ongoing controversy for several years, with news that the US Department of the Treasury was secretly surveilling banking transactions data, including information on EU citizens, first hitting the headlines in 2006.

Names, addresses and national identification numbers are among the sensitive data screened under the procedure designed to fight terrorism. However, the agreement makes no provision for European investigators to access similar data on US transactions.

In a bid to end the debate, the EU in 2008 appointed a special expert to assess how American authorities were dealing with the data.

French judge, Louis Bruguiere, subsequently concluded that the US was not abusing the information and that the programme had "significant security benefits for the EU" itself.

But in a strongly worded letter last week to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, whose country currently holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, Mr Buzek already urged the Socialist politician to allow the parliament to vote on the sensitive text.

He added that it would be "unwise" for the Council to force through such an "inherently controversial" agreement without first securing the parliament's assent.

Bank data transfer deal with US reached

EU justice ministers approved a provisional bank data transfer deal with the United States, allowing American anti-terrorist investigators to tap on European financial transaction data for another nine months.

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.

EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'

EU states ought to undergo a yearly "Rule of Law Review Cycle" to help stop countries such as Hungary, Poland, and Romania from backsliding on EU norms, the European Commission has said.

EU defends US data pact, as Facebook court case opens

An Austrian privacy campaigner vs Facebook over the future of data transfers to the US case opened at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Tuesday. The European Commission, meanwhile, says the Privacy Shield pact is working fine.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  2. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  3. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  4. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  5. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  6. EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'
  7. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  8. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us