European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

European Law Monitor newsEU Review of the United States' "Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme"

The European Commission has designated Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière to undertake a review on behalf of the European Union in respect of the procedures governing the handling, use, and dissemination of personal financial data from the EU that is carried over the SWIFT network and obtained by the U.S. Treasury Department pursuant to administrative subpoena.

Vice-President Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, welcomed this new review process: "Jean-Louis Bruguière is a prominent and highly regarded figure in counter terrorism circles both in Europe and the United States. I believe Judge Bruguière's knowledge of security matters, his legal training and judicial experience mean that he is extremely well qualified to assess whether the "Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme" is implemented consistent with the U.S. Treasury Department´s prior representations to the European Union".

Judge Bruguière has over 25 years experience in the judicial aspects of counter terrorism and was until recently First Vice-President at the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance and responsible for coordination of the fight against terrorism at judicial level in France. During this time Judge Bruguière has played an important role in developing international relations in the fight against terrorism.

Judge Bruguiere´s assigned role is to confirm that the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) is implemented consistent with the Treasury Department´s representations for the purpose of verifying the protection of EU-originating personal data. An annual report will be delivered to the Commissionand in turn findings presented to the European Parliament and Council. In carrying out this mission, Judge Bruguière will meet with appropriate U.S. Treasury Department officials responsible for the management and oversight of the TFTP, as well as analysts who have access to TFTP SWIFT data. In addition and for the purpose of his review Judge Bruguière may in coordination with the U.S. Treasury Department request access to information relevant to the TFTP, as well as to appropriate personnel from other U.S. agencies and an appropriate Executive Branch privacy and civil liberties official.

After the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks the U.S.Treasury Department developed the TFTP to identify, track and pursue those who provide financial support for terrorist activity. Under the TFTP the U.S. Treasury Department has served administrative subpoenas on the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). These subpoenas require SWIFT in the U.S. to transfer a limited subset of personal financial data held on its U.S. server to the U.S. Treasury Department where they may be used for counter terrorism purposes regarding suspected individuals or entities.

In June 2007 the U.S.Treasury Department gave a set of unilateral representations ("Representations") to the European Union regarding the controls and safeguards governing the handling, use and dissemination of data under the TFTP. The Representations describe EU data protection concerns and were published in the Official Journal in July 2007 and in the U.S. Federal Register in October 2007.

The Representations explain that the U.S. Treasury Department uses the subpoenaed SWIFT data exclusively for counter terrorism purposes, and include undertakings by the Treasury Department to delete data after specified periods of time in appropriate circumstances and to carry out an on-going check of data in order to identify and delete any data not necessary for counter terrorism purposes. The Representations further confirm that the strict counter terrorism purpose limitation applies also to SWIFT derived information shared with other U.S. agencies or third countries.

The Representations allow the Commission to designate an "eminent European person" who will assess whether the U.S. Treasury Department is implementing the TFTP in accordance with its Representations.
For more information on the activities of Vice President Frattini, please visit his website at