Meanwhile, Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger welcomed the Bundestag`s vote. The rejection of the SWIFT agreement has improved not only data protection in Europe, but also democracy and is therefore a victory for all EU citizens. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (ALDE), rapporteur for Parliament`s report on the Swift agreement, said: “I, too, support a strong European Union that can act shoulder to shoulder as a real counterpart to the United States. The exchange and use of data to combat terrorism is and remains necessary. But European citizens must be able to trust both security and data requirements. The Council has not been strong enough in this matter. The plenary session of the European Parliament will debate this week the approval of this draft agreement negotiated in recent months by the Council of Ministers, the European Commission, the US Treasury and the European Parliament. If PARLIAMENT votes in favour of the agreement – only a simple majority of votes is required – the agreement will enter into force on 1 August 2010 for an initial period of five years. The U.S. government said it was “disappointed” by the vote. In a statement, the US said the rejection “disrupts an important counterterrorism agenda” and was “a setback for US-EU cooperation in the fight against terrorism”. Cecilia Malmstrom, home affairs commissioner in the Barroso II government, called the rejection a “setback” but said the EU was determined to negotiate a similar new pact with the US.
Senior representatives of the Council and the Member States were very keen to support such an agreement and, prior to the vote, high-level figures had lobbied Washington, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to convince Parliament to approve the agreement. It goes without saying that no one in Europe wants to disappoint the United States. A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry deplores the European Parliament`s decision to denounce the swift preliminary agreement and said: “A temporary data exchange agreement between the European Union and the United States is better than none.” The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a financial messaging company based in Belgium, which operates an extensive network of personal information of thousands of financial institutions, mainly banks. . . .