Saturday, 28 November 2009

EU & USA: SWIFT agreement ─ Euroblogs and civil society

Is the proposed SWIFT financial data transfer agreement between the European Union and the United States of America an example of how civil society and Euroblogs take up important societal issues, where our governments are less than forthcoming?

I have not traced the matters to their roots, but I suspect that without active citizens and bloggers neither main stream media nor governments would have reacted. (Correct me if I am wrong.)

Before we see what happens Monday on the Swedish EU Council presidency watch, here are some examples of active Euroblogs, which at least have contributed to raising public awareness of privacy, data protection and fundamental rights concerns in relation to the SWIFT agreement.


As far as I understand, – a blog and platform for freedom and openness in the digital age – has been active in making the secretive SWIFT deal public. See, under the tag “swift”, for instance the following blog posts (in German). Without going back the whole way, here are some examples, including leaked documents and assessments of their quality:

SWIFT: Bundesregierung ist umgekippt (25 November 2009)

Geheimes Dokument zeigt die schmutzigen Tricks bei den SWIFT-Verhandlungen (24 November 2009)

Bundesregierung kippt bei SWIFT (24 November 2009)

Einigung bei Bankdatenübermittlung an die USA? (11 November 2009)

SWIFT-Debatte im EU-Parlament (16 September 2009)

Brussels Blogger

I was only vaguely aware of the SWIFT agreement preparations, until i read Brussels Blogger: SWIFT – EU to grant USA nearly unlimited access to all EU banking data (26 November 2009) and 5 reasons why the SWIFT deal is very bad for Europe (27 November 2009).

Julien Frisch took up the issue in EU to hand all banking details of Europeans to the US. A rapidly growing Facebook group demands that the deal is stopped.


Now that I have noticed the shady procedure and less than forthright official communication about the proposed SWIFT deal, I have stumbled across other blog posts about the issue. Here are a few examples:

Zero Hedge, Marla Singer: Pull a SWIFT one (27 November 2009) refers to Brussels Blogger and notes that for the United States there is all take and no give.

Der Spiegelfechter: SWIFT-Abkommen – Showdown in Berlin (27 November 2009) alleges that the German federal government wanted to adopt the SWIFT agreement “soundlessly”, but unexpectedly the Bundesrat – the second chamber representing the Länder – has vetoed the accord, which requires unanimity between EU member state governments.

Ralphs Piratenblog: [PM] Geheime Tricks bei der Durchsetzung des SWIFT-Abkommens (26 November 2009) notes that the German Pirate Party is opposed to the agreement. As it is, through US based servers the United States have wider powers in Germany than the German security services. There are document references to Netzpolitik.


We have seen active citizens stand up for open and democratic procedures and Euroblogs championing fundamental rights across national borders and language barriers.

In my humble view, there is an emerging Eurosphere, or European public sphere, despite the national media traditions and perspectives, and the pesky Euroblogosphere is a small, but growing part of it.

My own conclusion from the SWIFT agreement debacle would be the following wish to the EU institutions and public administrations in the member states: Be open to us and deal fairly; we will be more reasonable and trustful in return.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Do you find EUSSR myths fascinating? Are we EU citizens worth a better European Union? Educate yourself! There are already 487 Euroblogs aggregated on multilingual You can access all the posts or concentrate on the editors’ choice. On most of the blogs you can comment and discuss our common European future.