European Union interior ministers want to negotiate a new agreement on sharing bank data with U.S. counterterrorism investigators, after the European Parliament struck down an interim deal earlier this month, according to EUobserver.com.
The online newspaper reports that Spain’s Interior Minister Alfredo Rubalcaba said in press conference today, “We want to have an agreement with the US. We see this as being a fundamental element of our co-operation in attempts to combat international terrorism.” He also said the United States seemed to support a new agreement with the EU as a whole, rather than pursuing bilateral agreements with individual countries. This approach is thought to provide even fewer data protection guarantees.
EUobserver.com noted that the United States had indicated that it might opt for deals with Belgium and the Netherlands instead of an EU-wide agreement, since those countries host the databases of the primary company for facilitating international bank transfers: the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift)
The parliament voted February 11 to veto an interim accord that allowed the U.S. Treasury Department to view records from the Swift money-transfer system, saying it lacks “adequate personal data protection.”
The rejection came over appeals by EU national governments, which had endorsed the deal, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. “Our laws are being broken,” said Jeanine Hennis- Plasschaert, a Dutch member who steered the matter through the 27-nation Parliament today in Strasbourg, France. “The rule of law is crucial.”
A new deal would not be struck before autumn of this year.
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