[UPDATE ON 11 FEBRUARY 2010: The European Parliament just rejected the Swift agreement by 378 to 196 votes, giving us an answer to the question in our title: not the US, not the Commission and not the Council, at least on this one!]
The press, the euroblogosphere, Twitter…everywhere you look, discussions are taking place about the SWIFT dossier, and the “bras de fer” between the European Parliament and the Council relating to the transfer of bank data from European citizens to the United States authorities.
I won’t go in the substance of the debate as I am not an expert on those specific matters, even if my gut feeling tells tme that somewhere, something went really wrong (a feeling probably stemming from my disappointment some years ago when I saw Europe adopting its Data Retention Directive).
You can read a great post about the issues at stake with SWIFT written by BrusselsBlogger here , as well as a “blog intermediated discussion” between Julien Frish (asking Hillary Clinton to back off and leave the European Parliament alone) and Jon Worth (considering the EU can’t have its cake and eat it when it comes to relations with the USA)
The bit that struck me in this entire debate is: when Europe shows its teeth, at least through its elected officials in the European Parliament, the US know who to call. Jerzy Buzek by Hillary Clinton, numerous MEPs by the US Ambassador in Brussels…No communication issue here and no need for yellow pages.
But to a certain extent, I am starting to wonder if the classic question “Who should I call?” is not also becoming “Who will call them?”. Just imagine a reverse situation whereby Congress in the States were unwilling to sign up to an agreement between Europe and the USA. Who would call Nancy Pelosi? Herman Van Rompuy? Zappatero? Baroness Ashton? Barroso? Buzek? None or all of the above? And after Obama’s decision faced with this cacophony to not attend the EU-US summit (and let’s be frank: it’s not like the guy doesn’t have more pressing things to look after than yet another hand-shaking session in sunny Spain), would Pelosi pick up the phone?
But let’s go back to the title of this post: this week, the European Parliament votes on SWIFT in Strasbourg. The international and Council pressure is gigantic for them to vote YES, whilst I think every European citizen aware of this issue hopes they will stand strong and vote NO. After Super Bowl last night, I hope they make theirs the motto of the Saints and reply strongly : “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Parliament ? Who dat?”
And for the Saints’ fans: