The European Commission has adopted a mandate for negotiations with the United States on a new agreement for the sharing of bank transfer data. The mandate needs to be approved by the EU’s member states.
Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for home affairs, said she hoped the talks with the US could be wrapped up before the end of the year. The consent of the European Parliament is needed for the agreement to enter into force.
According to the mandate, US requests for data relating to bank transfers conducted through Swift, a consortium of international banks, need to be approved by a judicial public authority in Europe. Malmström said that the exact nature of that body would now be the subject of talks with member states.
The mandate also foresees mechanisms for administrative and judicial redress for EU citizens whose data have been shared with the US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP). MEPs in February rejected an interim agreement with the US because of the lack of such safeguards.
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, a Dutch liberal MEP who wrote a report in February that recommended the rejection, said in a statement yesterday that the Commission had “listened and responded to the Parliament’s main concerns” on the agreement. But Alexander Alvaro, a German liberal MEP, warned that the Parliament’s endorsement should not be taken for granted.
Malmström and Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice and fundamental rights, announced when presenting the mandate that the EU would seek to establish its own terrorist financing tracking programme. “We partly rely on the capacity of the American services to analyse these data,” Reding said, adding that the EU needed a similar capacity, which currently only exists at the level of member states.
Reding also announced that the Commission would seek to conclude a framework agreement with the US that would set standards for any kind of data-sharing.
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