Parliament examines SWIFT II agreement
Four months ago, Parliament rejected the EU-USA SWIFT bank data transfer agreement. This week, MEPs should approve a new version of the text, after negotiating certain safeguards with the Council and the US Treasury Department, and winning an undertaking that the EU will develop a system that precludes the need to transfer data in bulk to the USA.
How does the proposed agreement differ from the previous one?
The SWIFT dossier in Parliament since 2006
- 2001: "Terrorism Finance Tracking Program" (TFTP), established in response to 9/11 attacks
- June 2006: American press reveals subpoenas requiring SWIFT to transfer data to the US Treasury Department. European Parliament adopts a resolution calling for rules to ensure that data are adequately protected
- 2007: USA gives undertakings on control and safeguard procedures, and says that data will be used solely for counter-terrorism purposes
- March 2008: Commission engages former counter-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguière to produce a report in February 2009. Report concludes that the USA provides personal data protection safeguards
- 3 October 2007: SWIFT network decides to modify its architecture and builds a new data storage centre in Switzerland, thus rendering a new EU/US data exchange agreement necessary (opening of negotiations approved by a Council decision of 27/07/09)
- 13 July 2009: press reveals that a new agreement is being negotiated
- 22 July 2009: Parliament requests an explanation. Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot tells parliamentary committee that the new agreement will be only an interim one, because he wishes the EU to "renegotiate under Lisbon Treaty rules"
- 30 November 2009: interim agreement signed by the Council
- 13 January 2010: agreement published in the EU Official Journal
- 25 January 2010: agreement referred to Parliament for its consent, after several letters from EP President Jerzy Buzek to the Council Presidency
- 1 February 2010: agreement enters into force
- 4 February 2010: Civil Liberties Committee rejects the text
- 11 February 2010: Parliament's plenary rejects the text
- 10 May 2010: Council gives its green light to the new negotiating brief proposed by the Commission, and negotiations resume
- 28 June 2010: the agreement is signed by ministers of the twenty-seven. Thereafter, its conclusion depends upon Parliament.