Friday 5 February 2010

No support to SWIFT last week - 23 votes in favour yesterday?

Last week, the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs met already to discuss the SWIFT agreement that it rejected yesterday with 29 votes against 23.

In the Council report on last week's meeting it seems as if no MEP spoke in favour of the SWIFT agreement, although 23 of them voted in favour of SWIFT yesterday.

Is that because they didn't voice their agreement publicly? Or is that, because the Council secretariat only reported the ones that spoke against SWIFT for member states to know where to put more pressure?

None of the two option would be good, but judge for yourself reading through the following excerpts from the report (links added by me):
Mr Caamano Dominguez suggested that Europe should not show weakness on terrorism, inter alia by adopting the interim agreement on providing data for the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP).

The questions asked by representatives of political groups mostly revolved around the issue of the "Swift" Agreement on providing data for the TFTP. Mr Busuttil and Ms Vergiat (GUE/NGL, FR) were disappointed about the procedure chosen by the Council while Ms In 't Veld asked for access to an opinion by the Council Legal Service; Ms Vergiat and Mr Romeva i Rueda also raised concerns about the content of the agreement. [...]

In his replies, Mr Caamano Dominguez justified the need for an interim agreement, saying it was important not to lag behind in the fight against terrorism and suggested using the nine-month period for a careful analysis.

Also, many individual speakers made critical remarks about the "Swift" Agreement (inter alia Mr Voss (EPP, DE), Mr Albrecht (Greens/EFA, DE) and Mr de Jong (GUE/NGL, NL)). [...]

[...] Mr de Kerchove preferred to wait for the Commission report on body scanners before taking a position on them. He added that Judge Bruguière would issue a second evaluation report on the "Swift" Agreement the following week. On the latter point, Ms In 't Veld reacted by criticising its timing in the context of the request for the Parliament's consent and its provisional application.

Mr Faull, Director-General of the Commission's Justice, Liberties and Security Directorate- General, recalled that the Parliament had been requested to give its consent to the interim agreement on providing data for the use of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) ("Swift" Agreement). He added that the provisional application of the interim agreement was a separate matter, but would end if the Parliament refused its consent. In his view, the programme had produced important security leads and should therefore be continued. He announced a general review of the existing legislation as promised by Commissioner-designate Ms Malmström in her hearing and confirmed that Judge Bruguière would present his second evaluation report on the "Swift" arrangement in place at the LIBE meeting the following week.

The discussion focused on the "Swift" Agreement. Several speakers expressed critical views, in particular Mr Alvaro cited several points on which the agreement did not fulfil the criteria laid down in the Parliament's resolution of September 2009. Mr Lambrinidis (S&D, EL) joined Ms In 't Veld's critique of the timing of the new Bruguière report; Mr Tavares and Mr Albrecht expressed critical views about his first report. Mr Strasser (EPP, AT) and Mr Weber (EPP, DE) expressed doubts about the possible "security gap" invoked to justify the provisional application of the interim agreement, Mr Weber expressing concerns that the conclusion of an interim agreement would lower the chances of achieving improvements in a definitive agreement. Mr Busuttil considered that there was not enough information available to scrutinise the draft agreement, while Mr Kirkhope suggested accepting the provisional application and only giving an opinion after thorough reflection.
There you got it: Commission, Council Presidency, and Council anti-terror representative push in favour of SWIFT, and no supportive voices from MEPs - strange considering yesterday's vote, isn't it?