Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Suspension of the SWIFT agreement as a result of NSA surveillance

Delivered in Plenary - 24 October 2013

Mr President

The revelations made by Edward Snowden have raised questions on both sides of the Atlantic as to the extent and acceptability of the NSA’s surveillance activities. These questions are rightly being asked. However, we must be very careful before taking action here in the European Union.

Before authorising the SWIFT Agreement, there were demands in this Parliament for greater privacy protection to be incorporated, and it was. This was a good example of allies working together, ensuring security whilst protecting the rights of EU citizens. If there were evidence that the terms of this agreement had been broken, it would be prudent to consider some form of investigation first, but the directors of both Europol and SWIFT have given assurances to this House that this is not the case.

The sharing of financial information in the pursuit of terrorism and organised crime is vital to the security of EU Member States, the United States and the free world. I am pleased that my group, the ECR, supported the SWIFT Agreement back in 2010, and I strongly oppose the motion for suspension. Frankly, we have no power to do so anyway in this Parliament, and it would, of course, damage the City of London – which is the region that I represent – and its financial markets.