The United States has discovered the European Parliament - and the experience is not particularly pleasant. Last February, the parliament blocked a measure that the the US regards as critical to global anti-terrorism efforts – and the Americans ae desperately trying to get parliamentarians to think again. This week Hillary Clinton met Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European Parliament. Next week, vice-president Joe Biden will give a speech to the parliament. Terrorist finance was not the only reason for these meetings. But it has certainly given a new focus and urgency to US efforts to understand and influence the European Parliament.
The specific issue is that America wants access to data about bank transfers by European citizens, using the Swift system. The Americans say – and some Europeans agree – that such data has been crucial to thwarting previous terrorist attacks. But the EP objected on civil liberties grounds. It is particularly annoyed by the idea of “bulk transfers” of data. Read more