EU response to the US terrorist finance tracking programme

28-04-2011

For the United States, the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme is an essential element of its counter-terrorism policy. It relies on 'data sets' obtained under subpoena from the SWIFT worldwide messaging system, allowing it to track financial transactions from across the world, and initially including Europe.  In 2009, SWIFT moved its European transaction data to Europe, forcing the US to negotiate with European governments for continued access to the data. The move also coincided with the increase in the power of the European Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty. An interim agreement, supported by the Council and Commission, was rejected by the EP on the grounds that it failed to correctly balance security and civil liberties.  The EU-US Financial Messaging Data Agree­ment was finally signed in June 2010, following further negotiations with the US, and including additional data protection provisions in comparison to the rejected text.  Two reports on the first six months of the new agreement have, however, placed doubts on the new data protection safeguards. In particular a report on Europol's role has raised serious concerns from a number of MEPs. Europol has, in turn, strongly defended its own performance.  

For the United States, the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme is an essential element of its counter-terrorism policy. It relies on 'data sets' obtained under subpoena from the SWIFT worldwide messaging system, allowing it to track financial transactions from across the world, and initially including Europe.  In 2009, SWIFT moved its European transaction data to Europe, forcing the US to negotiate with European governments for continued access to the data. The move also coincided with the increase in the power of the European Parliament under the Lisbon Treaty. An interim agreement, supported by the Council and Commission, was rejected by the EP on the grounds that it failed to correctly balance security and civil liberties.  The EU-US Financial Messaging Data Agree­ment was finally signed in June 2010, following further negotiations with the US, and including additional data protection provisions in comparison to the rejected text.  Two reports on the first six months of the new agreement have, however, placed doubts on the new data protection safeguards. In particular a report on Europol's role has raised serious concerns from a number of MEPs. Europol has, in turn, strongly defended its own performance.