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EU court orders more transparency over US-EU terrorist finance tracking program

Loek Essers | July 4, 2014
The European Union's top court has ordered EU institutions to lift the veil on negotiations over sending EU citizens' banking data to U.S. authorities in an effort to identify and combat terrorism.

In 't Veld brought an action for annulment of the decision to the General Court of the European Union, that partially annulled the decision in May 2012. The court ordered the council to publish the document with an exception for parts that could reveal strategic objectives. The Council appealed the case, but the CJEU dismissed the appeal in its entirety.

In the end, it took In 't Veld five years from the first request for disclosure to the final judgment.

"That is unacceptable. People do not have the time nor the resources to go through such a long process. Everybody should be able to request access to documents, but right now that is impossible. With such long procedures, the right to access to documents is in practice a dead letter. The 'EU transparency rules'  legislation should urgently be revised," she said.

In 't Veld has another two cases before the European Ombudsman on openness of government. One case is about a Europol document regarding the implementation of the SWIFT agreement. The other case is about access to documents of the European Commission concerning the automatic exchange of bank data under the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) which aims to avoid tax evasion.

 

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