Friday, 27 November 2009

EU to hand all banking details of Europeans to the US

I am no expert in this field, but it really looks like member states on Monday might give unlimited access to all banking details of EU citizens to the USA.

According to Brussels Blogger this will be done without asking the same from the US, all has been decided without any parliament, and no citizen will be able to go to court against these measures.

In addition, member states want to push this through on Monday because on Tuesday the Lisbon Treaty enters into force an the European Parliament would need to participate in the decision-making then.

If this respects democracy and the rule of law, the East German State Security (Stasi) has been an organisation respecting basic human values and civic rights.

PS.: The Facebook group asking member states to stop their actions regarding SWIFT has been growing from 0 to 530 members within less than a day!


Brussels Blogger said...

Thanks for the post and the link!

Despite being in the Brussels bubble for a while I was unaware about the possibility of the Council of Minister adopting without any consultaion or other body ratifying such wide-ranging decisions.

Maybe put as a question: would such an agreement on a bilateral basis be possible in member states without approval of a law in the national parliament? If no, then this case really shows how utterly undemocractic the European Union is.

Anonymous said...

Julien, I have already noted my concerns on Brussels Blogger's post. However, it shows once again how undemocratic the EU is.

Julien Frisch said...

This one is rather an example on how undemocratic the member states are if they get the chance to be undemocratic within the EU setting.

It's even worse since had they waited for the Lisbon Treaty, the directly elected Parliament would have had its democratic say.

Slartibartfas said...

I am outraged about this, but this is a temporary deal for one year, during which a permanent one is going to be negotiated. Next time they won't be able to evade the Parliament, but I am not sure that if national governments like the German give in to the pressure that the EP would withstand it, but we will see.

Maybe the EP is calling the ECJ again, hasn't it done so the last time already?

Brussels Blogger said...

@Julien, yes, but the EU governments ARE to a large extent the EU, aren't they? And it's not like the Commission is raising any opposition to the deal. So this deal is about the EU. And tha fact that EU member states are able to make such deals in an EU setup is an EU problem.

@Slartibartfas, the real problem is: Once a first deal is in place it will be impossible to get rid of an agreement. It is NOW exactly the situation where an agreement is no longer necessary (because SWIFT moving its servers to Europe). But I have no hope on the EP that they will be able to improve.

The only realistic opposition force can come via media (and national politicians that stand up against the deal).

Slartibartfas said...

@ Brussels Blogger
I see your point, but the agreement has an intrinsic expiry date. It can't be prologued if the EP should simply say njet. But the pressure would probably incredible, much more than it would be now.

Regarding the media, I have to say, that this issue has been in German and Austrian media, also in the newspapers. Maybe the intensity could be raised further but the presence of the issue was already there.

PS: If the Council should do it on the 30th Nov, I am really hoping the Parliament is going to call the ECJ on this matter, but who knows if it has the guts.

Brussels Blogger said...

@Slartibartfas Nice thing for the US is: even if the agreement is terminated one day then they can keep all the data they already have.

Yes, German (more) and Austrian (less) media have reported on this.

But what about all the other countries? Do they not have free media? Does nobody care? No, as one sees how much fuss has been made a few months ago when the possibility was discussed that one EU member state's tax authority requests bank data from another EU member state.

It is simply because the SWIFT deal has not be communicated (no press conference, no press release, background documents and the agreement being classified as secret).

Slartibartfas said...

@Brussels Blogger

Regarding the data, SWIFT operated until very recently in the US, so I have no doubt that the US has all the data already anyway. Given the rather unlikely case that Europe should really stand up against it (now, or at least next year), the point would be about making it harder for them to gather new data.

I lack the overview of the media in the non German, non English media, but I realized that even in English media this was a really minor story, so if you say that was the case even the more in other areas I share your worries.

But is there anything one could do about it?