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Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (EU-US Agreement)

Volume 512: debated on Tuesday 29 June 2010

Following the conclusion of negotiations between the EU and the US, the Council yesterday signed an agreement with the United States that will allow financial messaging data stored in EU territory to be shared with the United States Treasury Department for its terrorist finance tracking programme (TFTP). The Government have opted in to the signing of this agreement.

The TFTP has brought significant security benefits to the EU and to the UK. Leads it has generated have provided valuable contributions to a number of investigations, including: the Bali bombing in 2002, the Van Gogh terrorist-related murder in the Netherlands in 2004, the plan to attack New York’s John F. Kennedy airport in 2007, an Islamic Jihad Union plot to attack Germany, the attacks in Mumbai in 2008 and the Jakarta hotel attacks in 2009. This agreement will further increase its effectiveness by imposing a binding requirement on the US Treasury to search the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) data on request from EU member states that comply with the terms of the agreement. It also contains strict yet proportionate data protection provisions.

The Government believe that parliamentary scrutiny of European business is extremely important and regret that, on this occasion, it has not been possible to complete parliamentary scrutiny of this important decision through the appropriate mechanism, as the timetable for the adoption of the agreement was rapid and the parliamentary scrutiny committees in the House of Commons have not yet formed. However, if the UK had not opted in, it could have put the success of the whole agreement in jeopardy.

Treasury Ministers have, of course, provided a full explanatory memorandum on the document to both Houses, and will be taking this issue forward with the scrutiny committees as soon as possible.