Sunday

25th Jun 2017

MEPs decry 'breach of trust' in EU-US data deal

  • EU banking data has been flowing to the US since 2001 (Photo: SWIFT)

With the EU's police agency Europol rubberstamping bank data requests from the US and following 'oral orders' from American investigators, MEPs have warned they may block future data transfer deals with the US.

"After reluctantly having given our consent to this agreement, we feel betrayed in reading this report, since it's also about the credibility of the European Parliament and the EU itself," German Liberal MEP Alexander Alvaro said during a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday (16 March).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Earlier on, Isabel Cruz, the chairwoman of Europol's supervisory board presented the findings of an inspection report casting serious doubts about the usefulness of the agency checking data requests from the US.

Oral explanations which inspectors could not verify and data requests "too broad" to be properly judged against the proportionality criterion are the main causes for concern.

"Europol has a role which is extremely confused. We always said it had to be a judicial body verifying the legality of data requests, not a police co-operation agency," Cruz said, in defence of the Hague-based agency.

Added at the insistence of MEPs themselves when re-negotiating the agreement they first struck down, Europol had to grapple with procedural rules and when asking the EU commission for clarifications on specific provisions of the agreement, it got the reply that the commission "cannot interpret the agreement."

"It's clear Europol has violated what we asked them to do. If it gave its okay to very broad data requests, it dis something wrong," Greek Socialist MEP Stavros Lambrinidis said.

He added that he personally opposed the Europol being given such a role, but "the pressure from the US was too big."

"This report shows obviously there are infringements which no EU court would accept. The conclusion would be to cancel the agreement," said German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht.

Supporters of the EU-US deal also slammed the findings of the Europol report.

"It's our own institutions, not the US, that fail to provide us with the information we need. We want reassurances the data protection rules are being enforced," British Conservative MEP Timothy Kirhhope said.

Initially set up as a covert program following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, the so-called Swift agreement was struck down in February last year when MEPs found there were too few data protection provisions. They later on agreed to an amended deal, which included the Europol provision.

EUobserver understands that the agreement could be suspended, but MEPs would be reluctant to call for this since the non-compliance issues lie on the EU side, not the US. A final decision is also pending a report due to be published on Thursday by the EU commission about the implementation of the agreement six months after its coming into force.

EU extends sanctions on Russia

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia hadn't done enough to implement the so-called Minsk peace process, a condition for lifting the sanctions.

Focus

UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'

British academics want to guarantee residency and work rights for their EU staff, as well as "enhanced mobility opportunities" for UK and EU students, mostly by keeping British participation in EU funding programs.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit