EU-US Agreement on the Transfer of Financial Messaging Data for purposes of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme

The negotiations on the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) Agreement started before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Already at the end of July 2009, the Council adopted negotiation guidelines for such an Agreement, knowing that in the absence of it an important security gap would arise, in which there would be a risk of losing the benefit of important leads obtained through the TFTP from European financial transactions for future terrorism investigations.

However, the Council, when authorising the signing of the Agreement with the US on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data for the purposes of the TFTP, decided that the Agreement should have a transitional nature and should be applicable only for a very short term, having a maximum duration of nine months.

On the press release of 9 February 2010, the Council elaborated as follows:

The short term Agreement already contains an important number of the guarantees which were called for in the European Parliament’s Resolution of 17 September 2009, as was requested during negotiations by Member States. The demands for a judicial authorisation as well as for a “push” system are also being complied with by the current short-term Agreement. The Agreement also clearly prohibits the use of any SWIFT data for purposes other than those linked to the financing of terrorism. The short-term Agreement is, as the Parliament had asked for, based on the 2003 EU-US Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement, and at the same time provides for a significantly higher level of data protection than the 2003 Agreement. In addition, the short-term Agreement provides a joint review (Article 10) ensuring a real control on the functioning of the TFTP Agreement, which can be launched at the simple request of the European Union.
As regards a longer term EU-US TFTP Agreement, the Council shares the Parliament’s concerns regarding the need for balance between security measures and the protection of civil liberties and fundamental rights, while ensuring the utmost respect for privacy and data protection. The Council calls on the Commission to adopt in February draft negotiation guidelines that fully take into account the concerns expressed by both institutions. The Council is of the opinion that a longer-term Agreement should contain strong guarantees concerning effective redress, the deletion of data and greater specificity regarding the sharing of TFTP-derived information with national authorities and third countries. The significant data protection safeguards already set out in the short term agreement, such as the strict purpose limitation and the absolute prohibition on data mining, will also feature prominently in any future TFTP Agreement. (….)

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One Response

  1. Letter of 5 Feb from Buzek to US on SWIFT: http://www.statewatch.org//news/2010/feb/eu-usa-swift-letter.pdf

    Letter from Buzek to presidency on Swift: http://www.statewatch.org//news/2010/feb/eu-usa-swift-ep-letter.pdf

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