EU plan for US access to bank data faces opposition
EU plans to grant U.S. anti-terror investigators broad access to Europeans' bank data have run into opposition from some the bloc states, diplomats said.
European Union plans to grant U.S. anti-terror investigators broad access to Europeans' bank data have run into opposition from some member states and EU lawmakers, diplomats said on Thursday.
A draft agreement obtained by Reuters showed Sweden, which holds the bloc's six-month rotating presidency, wanted EU governments to sign off on the deal before Dec. 1.
This would ensure the U.S. had continued access to the information until January, 2011. Without it, any terror investigations would rely on the goodwill of individual European countries to offer their information after 2009.
Some member states, including Germany, France, Austria and Finland, have taken issue with plans for speedy approval, saying more time was needed to ensure proper data protection for EU citizens.
Any negotiations after Dec. 1 could become lengthy because the Lisbon Treaty, which comes into force then, would require input from the European Parliament. At the moment the parliament plays only a consultative role in EU justice and internal affairs.
"They had reservations. On one side we should not press ahead on the eve of the Lisbon Treaty. On the other side the agreement must be improved in terms of legal and data protection," an EU diplomat told Reuters.
German conservative MEP Manfred Weber said the agreement should not be signed shortly before the Lisbon Treaty comes into force. "We want the agreement and we want close cooperation with the U.S.," he said, "but the data of European citizens should not be accessible without any reasonable protection."
Countering criticism, a Swedish diplomat said the presidency was quite optimistic about reaching an agreement so that the deal can be adopted by Nov. 30.
A European Commission spokesman, Michele Cercone, said EU data protection and privacy rules would be fully enforced with the agreement.
Under the deal, U.S. anti-terror authorities would have to justify their demand for information with the U.S. Treasury and focus their request as narrowly as possible.
But in cases where the request was not precise, "all relevant" data should be made available. This could include names and addresses as well as account and personal identification numbers.
The agreement would be temporary and a final deal is expected at a later date.
The banking data is stored by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) in Europe.
Reuters Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Kasım 2009, 19:51