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MEPs ask for a new agreement on SWIFT bank data transfers to USA

23 September, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: MEPs fordern ein neues Abkommen über SWIFT-Bankdatentransfers an die ...

The European Parliament issued on 17 September 2009 a resolution reaffirming the need that for the Council and EU ministers to renegotiate the agreement to transfer bank data to the United States Treasury Department.

MEPs have previously expressed their concern for not having been involved in the negotiation of the EU-US interim agreement on banking data transfers as EU ministers had decided unanimously to give the European Commission a negotiating mandate without involving the Parliament. MEPs consider this goes against the opinion of Council's legal service, which recommanded to include the European Parliament in this process.

The EP resolution sets up guidelines for the new agreement in order to ensure data protection and privacy, underlining once more that the data should be transferred to the US authorities only for the purpose of fighting terrorism and that the transferred data should be used or stored proportionately to this objective.

The resolution reaffirms the "determination to fight terrorism" but also expresses the "need to strike the right balance between security measures and the protection of civil liberties and fundamental rights, while ensuring the utmost respect for privacy and data protection."

The EP believes that the transfer requests should be "based on specific, targeted cases, limited in time and subject to judicial authorisation, and that any subsequent processing is limited to data which disclose a link with persons or organisations under examination in the US" and that "EU citizens and enterprises are granted the same defence rights and procedural guarantees and the same right of access to justice as exist in the EU and that the legality and proportionality of the transfer requests are open to judicial review in the US". In order to prevent any abuse, the transferred data should be "subject to the same judicial redress mechanisms as would apply to data held within the EU, including compensation in the event of unlawful processing of personal data."

The resolution also asks for a reciprocity mechanism that would oblige the US authorities to equally transfer relevant financial data to the competent EU authorities, upon request.

The EP resolution did not reach consensus amoung different parliamentary groups. The adopted resolution was rejected by the Greens (who had their own resolution) and the left groups. The opposition to this resolution considered the present text is not strong enough after the compromises between different political groups. It also highlighted the fact that the current format does not call for a stop of the current negociations.

Beatrice Ask, the Swedish Justice Minister, also stated that the new text under negotiation with the United States will be in force for no more than 12 months.

"If we don't get real assurances concerning the protection of (personal) data there won't be a deal," said EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot who also stated that "an immediate renegotiation will take place under the Treaty of Lisbon", thus giving EP the final word on the text.

SWIFT: new EU-US agreement will be renegotiated next year (17.09.2009)

European Parliament resolution of 17 September 2009 on the envisaged international agreement to make available to the United States Treasury Department financial payment messaging data to prevent and combat terrorism and terrorist financing (updated 21.09.2009)

Motion on a resolution on the envisaged international agreement to make available to the United States Treasury Department financial payment messaging data to prevent and combat terrorism and terrorist financing - Raül Romeva i Rueda, Jan Philipp Albrecht on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group (14.09.2009)

EU poses conditions on US access to bank account info (17.09.2009)

EDRI-gram: A new SWIFT agreement under negotiation between EU and USA (9.09.2009)



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