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EU Commissioner for Home Affairs
EU-US agreements: Commission reports on TFTP and PNR
Press Point TFTP/TFTS/PNR/Brussels
27 November 2013
Today we adopted a number of reports and documents on the EU-U.S. cooperation in the Home Affairs and Justice area.
These include a Communication, developed jointly by myself and Vice-President Reding, setting out the challenges and risks following the revelations of U.S. intelligence collection programmes, as well as the steps that need to be taken to address these concerns.
The Communication puts forward a clear agenda for how the U.S. can work with the EU to rebuild trust, and reassure EU citizens that their data will be protected. It includes a call for the U.S. to take action in six areas to rebuild trust on EU-US data flows.
Everyone from Internet users to authorities on both sides of the Atlantic stand to gain from cooperation, based on strong legal safeguards and trust that these safeguards will be respected.
At the same occasion, we have adopted two reports on the state of play of the agreements already in place with the US.
I will focus my statement today on these reports, starting with the Joint Report regarding the value of Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) data:
The EU-U.S. TFTP Agreement asks the Commission and the U.S. Treasury Department to jointly evaluate the Agreement after three years from its entry into force.
The Report adopted today clearly shows that TFTP provided valuable data in preventing and combatting terrorism and its financing. It helps to detect the financial structures of terrorist organisation and the new streams of financial support.
Most recently TFTP-derived information has been used to investigate, for instance, the April 2013 Boston marathon bombings, threats during the London Olympics or EU-based terrorists training in Syria.
EU Member States and Europol also benefit from such information and receive valuable investigative leads. Over the last 3 years, in response to 158 total requests made by the Member States and the EU, 924 investigative leads were obtained from the TFTP.
The Report also contains information about the consultations with the U.S. in reaction to the media allegations about a potential breach of the TFTP Agreement.
This process does not fall directly under the scope of this Report, but it was urgent to formally address media allegations about the U.S. breaking the safeguards contained in the agreement.
I have taken these allegations very seriously and shared with my U.S. counterparts the deep concerns generated by the Snowden case.
I have clearly warned them that transparent and detailed information on the implementation of the agreements is crucial to continue exchanging data and cooperating with us.
To this aim I started consultations in the framework of the TFTP agreement. I have had a number of contacts with the U.S. I met with Under Secretary Cohen on 7 October and on 18 November. I went to the White House on 18 November and, upon clear request also following the European Parliament resolution, I received written assurances by the US authorities.
The consultations have not revealed any elements indicating a breach of the Agreement by the U.S., therefore, I have decided to close them.
I informed the U.S. about this decision yesterday evening. I will keep my attention high on the implementation of the TFTP agreement under close scrutiny over the coming months and in the longer term. An earlier review will be conducted already in Spring next year.
We have also adopted a Communication on an EU TFTS. When the TFTP Agreement was concluded, the Commission was asked, in particular by the European Parliament, to submit a framework for extraction of data on EU soil and to present a report on development of an EU system equivalent to the TFTP.
We have looked in detail at all options and in particular we considered necessity, proportionality, impact on fundamental rights and cost-effectiveness of each option.
Our conclusion is that any EU TFTS would be expensive and demanding on resources to put in place and maintain.
The main point is that an EU TFTS would require the creation of a gigantic database containing data of EU citizens' financial transfers. Such database would raise serious challenges in terms of the data storage, access and protection, not to mention the huge technical and financial efforts.
Therefore, in my view the case to present at this stage a proposal for an EU TFTS is not clearly demonstrated. It will be now for the EU Home Affairs Council and the Parliament to make the final choice on this issue.
The US PNR joint review report has also been adopted. We carried out the PNR joint review one year after its entry into force, on 8 and 9 July 2013. Our EU experts went to Washington to check if the DHS is operating in compliance with the standards and representations laid down in the Agreement.
We found that the implementation is in line with the conditions set out. For example the masking and deletion of sensitive data are respected and DHS has stated that it has never accessed sensitive data for operational purposes.
So, to conclude, I know that EU citizens' trust has been shaken by the Snowden case and that serious concerns still remain following the revelations of widespread US illegal access to personal data.
A trust-building process will only work if the U.S. will agree to put in place the necessary legal frameworks to define in details what can be done, and under which guarantees.
As today's reports show, where we have rules in place, the Commission can make sure that the U.S. sticks to them.