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Brussels, 15 June 2010

European Commission adopts draft agreement with the US to track terrorist finance

(see MEMO/10/258)

The European Commission has adopted today the draft Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) Agreement with the United States. The Agreement contains guarantees that ensure protection of EU citizens' data, while enabling U.S. and EU law enforcement authorities to make use of a paramount tool in the fight against terrorism. It will now be up to the Council to approve the Agreement which will require the consent of the European Parliament before it can enter into force. .

"The European Commission has negotiated on behalf of the European Union an agreement that will increase the security of European citizens while at the same time fully respecting their rights to privacy and data protection", said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs. She added: "The draft Agreement is a substantial improvement as compared with the rejected Interim Agreement. It takes account of the key issues raised by the European Parliament and Council. I call now on the Council and the European Parliament to take the necessary steps to allow the Agreement to enter into force a soon as possible."

The draft Agreement significantly strengthens data protection guarantees concerning transparency, rights of access, rectification and erasure of inaccurate data. The Agreement guarantees non-discriminatory rights of administrative redress and ensures that any person whose data are processed under the Agreement will have rights to seek judicial redress in the United States from any adverse administrative action. The Agreement further acknowledges that the principle of proportionality is a guiding principle for application of the Agreement.

Under the Agreement a European public authority, namely Europol will assess whether the data requested in any given case are necessary for the fight against terrorism and its financing. Europol will also have to verify that each and every request is tailored as narrowly as possible in order to minimise the amount of data requested. If a request for data does not meet these conditions, no data can be transferred under the Agreement.

The draft Agreement empowers the EU to undertake regular and comprehensive reviews of implementation of the Agreement and of the TFTP. The EU review team will be led by the European Commission and will include representatives of two Data Protection Authorities and a judicial person. The European Parliament will be kept fully informed of the outcome of all Reviews. In addition, the Commission will appoint an independent person who will monitor on an ongoing basis existing oversight of all TFTP searches and other privacy and data security safeguards.

The draft Agreement holds out the prospect of the establishment within the EU of an EU system equivalent to the TFTP, implying a more targeted transfer of data in the future. It is up to the European Union to decide whether and how this will be done. Should the EU decide to set up its own EU system, the Agreement commits the U.S. to cooperate and provide assistance to ensure the efficient establishment of an equivalent EU system.

As for the retention period for non-extracted data, the analysis produced by the US authorities shows the high value of data that are between 3 to 4 and 4 to 5 years of age. We have agreed therefore to keep the 5 year retention period subject to a commitment to assess within three years of the start of the Agreement whether retention periods should be reduced.

For more information

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

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