EU assembly rejects U.S. bank data deal on fighting terrorism

February 11, 2010

BRUSSELS, Feb 11 (Reuters) – The European Parliament rejected on Thursday an agreement with the United States on sharing bank data, snubbing appeals from Washington for help in counter-terrorism investigations.

A nine-month interim agreement went into force provisionally at the start of February but deputies from Liberal, Socialist and Green groups had opposed it on the grounds that it failed to protect the privacy of EU citizens.

Washington will now have to seek other ways to access information on money transfers in Europe until it can negotiate a permanent agreement with the EU. It says such data is vital to track terror suspects.

Underscoring U.S. concerns, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote to parliament president Jerzy Buzek last week to ask for support.

EU governments also made last minute appeals, pledging to give deputies better access to future negotiations with Washington.

But Buzek said more data privacy protection was needed.

“The majority view … is that the correct balance between security, on the one hand, and the protection of civil liberties and fundamental rights, on the other, has not been achieved,” Buzek said in a statement after the vote. (Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Dale Hudson and Paul Taylor)

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