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No to SWIFT deal

February 11, 2010

The European Parliament has voted against a controversial deal that would have led the EU and US to share bank transfer data, something Washington has said is crucial for counter-terrorism investigations.

The European Parliament
Parliamentarians vote against deal amid privacy worriesImage: AP

On Thursday the European Parliament voted to reject a bank data sharing deal with the United States. The parliamentarians resisted appeals from the US to continue a nine-month interim agreement allowing US authorities to access financial transaction date from SWIFT, an international banking transfer system.

The US says the data-sharing is for investigations into terrorist activity, but many European politicians expressed concern that it failed to protect the privacy of EU citizens.

SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, facilitates trillions of dollars in financial transactions across the world each day.

Until recently, some of its servers were located on US soil, giving American authorities the jurisdiction needed to access the information on them. But at the end of 2009, the servers were moved to Europe.

A temporary agreement with the US was ratified by EU member countries in November - just one day before the European Parliament would have taken on its additional Lisbon powers.

The rejection of the deal may be evidence of the new clout the parliament has now that the Lisbon Treaty has entered into force.

Editor: Andreas Illmer