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EU Commissioner for Home Affairs
Commissioner Malmström's intervention in the European Parliament on the EU-US TFTP Agreement
European Parliament Plenary/Strasbourg
9 October 2013
Dear Madam President, Honourable members, ladies and gentlemen.
I am here tonight to inform you about the actions I decided to take following the press allegations about the possible access of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to the data exchanged through the EU-US TFTP Agreement.
On 24 September I met many of you in the LIBE Committee and I informed you about my on-going efforts to follow up on this matter which is a great concern for me. The discussion in LIBE was helpful, and confirmed the need to clarify a number of issues.
Since the first allegations appeared in the press, I have immediately taken action.
On 4 July 2013 I sent a first letter to my U.S. counterparts. On 11 September I called Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, Mr Cohen and I told him that I waited for substantial information on the alleged tapping.
The next day I also sent him a letter in which I requested opening of consultations under Article 19 of the TFTP Agreement.
In reply to my letter, which I shared with you on 23 September, the U.S. authorities have provided some explanations. Several important questions remained unanswered.
I therefore met with Under Secretary Cohen in Brussels last Monday. I appreciated that he came despite the budgetary constraints. We had an open and very long discussion. It clarified a number of points.
During the meeting Under Secretary Cohen explicitly confirmed that, since the entry into force of the TFTP Agreement, the U.S. government has not collected financial messaging data from SWIFT in the EU.
He also said that, the U.S. government has not served any subpoenas on SWIFT in the EU during that period.
I insisted on having these important statements confirmed in writing.
We also discussed in some detail the established channels through which the U.S. obtains financial information in SWIFT format used by financial institutions worldwide. Also, on this I asked for further explanations in writing in order to be absolutely sure that these mechanisms do not conflict with the TFTP Agreement.
At this stage therefore our contacts with SWIFT and the U.S. Government have not revealed any evidence that the TFTP Agreement has been violated.
Some further clarifications are however needed before we can draw full conclusions.
Concluding the consultations with the U.S. remains on the top of my agenda and also for my staff and we intend to do our best to get all information needed in the near future.
Of course, I will make sure that you are fully informed about future developments and the outcome of these consultations.