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Liberal leaders threaten to derail EU-US Swift data deal

19 January 2010  |  8317 views  |  0 EU building, Brussels

Liberal party leaders in the European Parliament are threatening to over-turn an interim agreement granting US authorities access to European banking transactions transmitted over the Swift messaging network.

European Union ministers in November agreed a controversial nine-month deal to continue letting US anti-terror investigators access bank data sent over the Swift network.

The interim agreement was hurriedly signed by EU interior ministers just before the Lisbon Treaty entered into force on 1 December in order to avoid parliamentary objections. However Parliament is still required to give its consent (probably in January 2010) before the agreement can be ratified but can no longer amend it.

In a press release issued Monday, European Parliament group leaders approved a proposal from Liberal group leader, Guy Verhofstadt, that threatens to scrap the deal unless certain conditions are met.

"In order for Parliament to be in a position to give its consent or not, it had laid down two clear conditions, namely that Parliament is granted full access to information related to this interim agreement and that its concerns are fully reflected in the negotiating mandate for the longer term agreement required once the interim agreement expires at the end of October,"

A plenary debate on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday in Strasbourg, during which the Spanish presidency will be expected to release more detailed information on the technicalities of the deal.

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