Transfer of Financial Messaging Data to the US (SWIFT)
After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in September 2001, the US began to submit informal requests for and successfully procure data on financial transactions from the financial service provider SWIFT.
This data can be checked against metadata profiles of potential terrorists.
When this practice became public, it caused uproar among EU citizens, who duly became aware that they are being spied on.
To rubber-stamp its practices the USA concluded a formal treaty with the EU.
The first version of that treaty was rejected by Parliament in February 2010 due to privacy concerns. A second version was then adopted a few months later. Meanwhile, the European Commission is drafting proposals for an EU equivalent of the U.S. system.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens believe that everybody's right to privacy should be protected.
We advocate court-approved transfers of personal data, when justified by sufficient evidence. We concurred with objections to the first agreement with SWIFT, with Parliament's demands to halt bulk data transfers and with its call for judicial control over data requests before any information is actually transferred to the USA.
We believe that this should be subject to clear rules. The Greens also called for strictly limited storage periods for such personal data.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
The Greens successfully rallied support among MEPs to object to the original agreement with SWIFT.
And we exploited the opportunity to raise awareness of the problems caused by the agreement.
Which points did the Greens lose?
The Greens were unable to ensure the rejection of the second version of the agreement.
Indeed, we were dismayed to see even the ALDE and the S&D cave in to US pressure and settle for a bad deal, placing Europol in charge of transferring data on European citizens.
It has transpired that requests for data are not checked on an individual basis, yet bulk data are being transferred to the USA.
As a result, we have demanded that the agreement with SWIFT be suspended and we firmly oppose any EU version of such an arrangement.
Lead MEP:Alexander Alvaro (ALDE)
Green MEP responsible:Jan Philipp Albrecht
Staff contact:Wouter Van Ballegooij (Email)
Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?