The European Commission (EC) has stated that it "regrets" the decision of the European Parliament to ban the US from snooping on bank transactions occurring in the region, but is intent on negotiating a more acceptable agreement to the same end.
The European Parliament voted yesterday to reject the interim Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) element of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme agreement, much to the EC's chagrin.
The move followed criticism of the Swift proposals last year by Dr Gus Hosein, a senior fellow at human rights orgainisation Privacy International and visiting academic at the London School of Economics.
Hosein said that the proposed legislation risked opening the way to "Europe outsourcing its surveillance to the US government".
However, Cecilia Malmström, EC commissioner for home affairs, said that she regretted the European Parliament's decision.
"I remain convinced that the programme enhances the security of our citizens, " she added. "It would be the role of the EC to make sure that all the relevant safeguards for EU citizens' privacy and data protection are duly included in any possible future agreement."
Malmström said that the EC would now work with the US Treasury Department on negotiating a new agreement that would "give us greater security, more data protection and a useful co-operation tool" in tracking terrorists' finances.
Viviane Reding, EC vice president and EU commissioner for information society and media, likewise confirmed that the EU would now prepare a "recommendation for authorising the negotiation of a future EU-US data protection and information-sharing agreement".
Reding added that she intended to make quick progress.
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