Spiegel Online has published two articles in the past week on the tension between the EU and US in response to US demands for personal information:
New US Demands for Information Angers European Parliament begins:
US officials are demanding access to additional European police databases in their hunt for potential terrorists traveling to the US. The demands include DNA samples, fingerprints, access to criminal registers and other information. The request is being opposed by members of the European Parliament.
Under massive pressure from the United States government, European Union member states are moving to provide American security officials with access to data in European police databases. Last week, Austria gave in to pressure from Washington to provide access to data including DNA samples, criminal registries and fingerprints.
Without the data exchange, the US ambassador in Vienna made clear to the Austrian chancellor’s office that Washington would quickly remove Austria from the list of countries that enjoy a visa waver for travel to the United States. Other countries, including Germany, had already quietly acquiesced to Washington’s firm wishes.
Washington is also demanding that its anti-terror officials be allowed to analyze cross-border payment transactions and all available date on individuals traveling to the US.
The second article, European Parliament Balks at US Data Deals, begins:
Representatives of US security agencies want further concessions from the EU to ensure free access to police computers, bank transfers and airline passenger data in the fight against terror. But members of the European Parliament have said they will resist the moves.
Washington’s army of diplomats in Europe has been taking on one country at a time. Germany stood at the top of the list and, initially, surrendered without even a whimper to the American demands. In 2008, the federal government in Berlin signed an agreement pushed by Washington allowing American officials wide-ranging access to the databases of German security agencies. It was only after leaders in Hamburg raised their objections to the deal that it was, temporarily, stalled in the Bundesrat, Germany’s upper legislative chamber, which represents the interests of the states. The city-state has since withdrawn its objections after securing minor concessions on data protection provisions in the document, and the treaty is now set to be approved.
Read both articles on Spiegel Online. At the end of the day, it will come down to whether the U.S. can bully the EU Parliament into bending over for them. But they may not find it as easy as they have in the past:
Many MEPs also have the feeling that they are being tricked. If the United States first signs an agreement, like SWIFT, and then tries to overturn it in other ways, or if Washington forces through what is not achievable at EU level by blackmailing individual national governments one by one, then how and why should negotiations continue? asks Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee chairwoman in ‘t Veld.”The Americans’ word doesn’t count for much anymore anyway,” she said.
Indeed. It doesn’t count for much here, either.