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11 Feb, 2010 13:00

Bank data-sharing agreement with US sunk by EU parliament

The European Parliament has overturned Washington’s call for sharing transactions’ details to track down sponsors of terror.

This means the banking details of millions of both ordinary European citizens and – what the deal is aimed at – potential financers of international terrorism will be out of reach for the US.

The most active opponents of the agreement claimed that if the tables were turned and it was the EU government going to US Congress, asking them to allow the transfer of bank details of US citizens to a foreign country, there is no way such a decision would be made.

Member of European Parliament Gerard Batten, from the UK Independence Party, says he is against one-way traffic between America and the EU.

“I would not dream of surrendering their information to us on the same basis,” Batten told RT. “Just in the same way as we have in UK the extradition treaty which means they can take our citizens with almost impunity, but we can’t touch theirs. That has to go through a court process. If you are going to have some kind of agreement for the exchange of information, what my party would want would be a unilateral agreement between the US, and on an intergovernmental basis.”

Developments are very significant for the American-European relations, which are not at a very good point, former Italian MEP Giulietto Chiesa told RT.

“It’s not a technical question, but a big political issue and they believe it will have serious repercussions on the relations between Europe and the United States,” Mr. Chiesa said.

It is most unlikely the situation will prompt America to refuse any cooperation with Europe in the future, Mr. Chiesa added.

“In the next nine months the negotiations will certainly begin again,” he said. “Europe has one month to propose a new agreement. I believe the US will come back and try to obtain that. But I’m not sure European parliament will accept it.”

Read also: Terrorism and human rights: Where to draw the line?