The European Parliament has strongly rejected a deal that would have allowed U.S. authorities continued access to data on European bank transfers, striking a blow to the Obama administration’s effort to continue a controversial global terrorist finance tracking program begun under the George W. Bush administration.
The lawmakers’ 378 to 196 vote is sure to spark a transatlantic tussle over what the United States has said is a significant tool in tracking and disrupting terrorist plots aimed at the U.S. and Europe.
The vote came despite intense lobbying in recent days by top U.S. officials including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The U.S. mission to the European Union said it was “disappointed” with the EU move, calling it “a setback for U.S.-EU counterterror cooperation…”
“There’s a whole list of concerns that have to do with insufficient redress for EU citizens, no sufficient clarity about whom the data will be shared with and the fact that it is bulk data that are shared,” said Sophie in’t Veld, a Dutch member of parliament opposed to the deal. “The data handed over is a huge pile, not targeted at all. So that was a huge issue.”
Craven beancounters needn’t cower too far under the covers, though. American banks are still forced upon pain of death, doom and destruction to comply with Bush-era rules.