After painful negotiations that collapsed several times, the U.S. and EU agreed on a set of criteria under which U.S. intelligence agencies could request access to specific SWIFT data and EU governments could do the same.
At least one classified report claimed several investigations that were helped by the SWIFT data and deveral attacks that were headed off, including the 2007 capture of three German members of a Pakistan-based group affiliated with al-Queda.
A report last week [quickview of a PDF] from the Europol Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) found that requests for information from European agencies were almost always turned down, while requests from the U.S. went through without a hitch despite failing criteria set up in the agreement to protect it. [Here's the JSB page with the report PDF and an overview of Europol inspections.]
Many of the U.S. requests were too vague to satisfy the criteria, and the number of oral requests was so high that verifying their validity was impossible, the report found.
"We have given our trust to the other EU institutions, but our trust has been betrayed," said Sophia in 't Veld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament who is involved in discussions over scrapping it. "This should be kept in mind when they want our approval for other agreements."
The European Commission is due to release its evaluation of the agreement today.