Statement by Friso Roscam Abbing, spokesperson of Franco Frattini, on SWIFT
Type: Speech - summary
End production: 28/06/2007
Following a joint undertaking by the Commission and the Council Presidency, the European Union has got a set of unilateral commitments ("Representations") of the United States Treasury Department regarding their handling of EU originating personal data received from SWIFT in the United States under compulsion of administrative subpoenas. These "Representations" take account of EU data protection concerns. The Commission and the Council of the European Union have taken note of the "Representations" of the United States Treasury Department regarding their handling of EU personal data received from SWIFT.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General view of the press room
||Friso Roscam Abbing, spokesperson of Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Justice, Freedom and Security, (in ENGLISH) saying that Franco Frattini welcomes the United States' Treasury Department's unilateral Representations regarding their handling of EU originating personal data received from SWIFT in the United States under compulsion of administrative subpoenas, as they take account of EU data protection concerns;
the EU and its most important strategic partner in the fight against terrorism, the United States, have to join forces in this fight, including the financing of terrorism; however, these activities should be done in full respect of fundamental rights, including notably data protection rights and the right to privacy of EU citizens;
he warmly thanks his services for the strong support received to find, in good cooperation with the USA, an appropriate and satisfactory approach taking account of the needs of law enforcement authorities to identify, track and pursue those who provide financial support for terrorist activities, as well as providing sufficient data protection guarantees, ensuring that EU citizens data protection rights are not inappropriately infringed upon;
the unilateral representations from the U.S. Treasury that the Commission and the Council will take note of, and that the Commission considers adequate, provide for data protection guarantees, but need to be completed by other actions in order to make lawful the transfer of Swift data also for commercial purposes; he is therefore looking to SWIFT and to the financial institutions that use its services to take the necessary steps so that SWIFT will be in compliance with the Data Protection Directive and may have recourse to the Safe Harbour mechanism, that allows limitations on its data protection principles for important public purposes "to the extent necessary to meet national security, public interest or law enforcement requirements; in particular, SWIFT should inform its customers and notify the Belgian Data Protection Authority of the fact that personal data will be transferred to the U.S. for commercial purposes, where it could be accessed by the U.S. Treasury under the "Terrorist Finance Tracking Program" and to the financial institutions which use SWIFT's services should ensure that their customers will be so informed
||General view of the press room
||Friso Roscam Abbing (in ENGLISH) saying that this precisely has been one the main objectives of finding an adequate approach which will ensure that at the end of the day EU citizens receive appropriate information about the use of their personal data which of course needs to be fully respectful of EU laws including notably EU data protection directive
||Friso Roscam Abbing (in ENGLISH) saying that there is a political agreement amongst the three political negotiators representing the Council Presidency, representing the United States, and representing the European Commission in the person of Franco Frattini;
they have found an agreement; now this is going to be put into a legal document on which we hope and expect than the COREPER could give the final green light
||General view of the press room (3 shots)