The new agreement – the AGREEMENT between the EU and the US on the processing and transfer of financial intelligence data within the meaning of the US Terrorist Financing Financing Programme (TFTP) – was signed on 28 June by the Spanish Minister of the Interior – on behalf of the EU – and by the current Business Department of the US mission in the EU, on behalf of the US. The agreement is based on a Decision of the Council and related statements. The national government concerned is the Netherlands and, first of all, we do not currently have a full government, so it would not be the simplest state with which an agreement can be reached, perhaps after the June elections. Moreover, but above all, such an agreement would violate the paragraphs of the Lisbon Treaty on Fair Cooperation and such an act would undoubtedly be brought to justice. Today`s signing in Brussels (28 June) was made possible after Spain, the current president of the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers, accepted the requests by MEPs to amend the text. The amendments accepted by the United States pave the way for the European Parliament to approve the agreement at its last plenary session, before next week`s summer recess in Strasbourg. Today, THE EU Member States have given their agreement in writing. The final agreement on the new wording was reached on Friday 25 January. After signing the draft Malmstrom agreement on 10 June, MEPs called for changes to the text on mass data transfer, the creation of an EU equivalent for the US Programme for The Continuation of Terrorist Financing (TFTP) and EU surveillance on the processing of TFTP data on US soil.
A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry regretted the European Parliament`s decision to abolish the SWIFT interim agreement: “A temporary agreement on the exchange of data between the European Union and the United States is better than nothing at all.” The official reason for this refusal is that this agreement “violates the fundamental principles of data protection.” In a resolution of 17 September 2009, the European Parliament said that data should be collected “only for the purpose of combating terrorism” and that the right balance must be maintained between security measures and the protection of civil liberties. MEPs had already spoken out against the agreement with the United States in a debate last January. In July 2010, the European Parliament approved a five-year agreement with the United States to transfer financial and other information collected by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) to the United States. The agreement to allow the US authorities to continue to access international data on financial transactions could be dismantled under the weight of a strengthened New European Parliament. (11.02.2010) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (ALDE), the rapporteur of Parliament`s report on the Swift agreement, said: “I too support a strong European Union, capable of acting shoulder to shoulder as the equivalent of the United States. The exchange and use of data for counter-terrorism purposes is and remains necessary. But European citizens must be able to trust both security and data requirements. The Council was not strong enough in that way. The fixed-term agreement with the United States was ratified by EU member states in November, the day before the European Parliament was granted additional powers in Lisbon. The new agreement provides for a surprising role for the European Police Office (Europol), which Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, described well in his recent opinion on the agreement.
In order to ensure independent oversight, the agreement requires a judicial authority that “should have the responsibility to receive applications from the U.S. Treasury, assess their compliance with the agreement and, if necessary, require the supplier to transmit the data on the basis of a push system.” However, it turns out that the agreement assigns these tasks to Europol, “which is an EU agency for the prevention and repression of organised crime, terrorism and other serious forms of crime that affect two or more