European Foreign Affairs Review

Volume 17 (2012)

Volume 17 (2012) / Issue 2/1

Ariadna Ripoll Servent, Alex MacKenzie, 'The European Parliament as a ‘Norm Taker’? EU-US Relations after the SWIFT Agreement' (2012) 17 European Foreign Affairs Review, Issue 2/1, pp. 71–86


EU-US relations in internal security demonstrated a tendency to be turbulent. As a result, EU-US cooperation has not evolved into a partnership but into an asymmetrical relationship within which the EU has become a 'norm taker' - a recipient of US security norms. With this perspective in mind, it is time to take stock of the changes in the institutional configuration of the EU brought about by the Lisbon Treaty. In particular, the European Parliament (EP), often a vocal critic of the transfer of US security norms to the EU in the past, has been empowered to consent to international agreements. We therefore examine whether the EU remains a recipient of US security norms after Lisbon through the first case of its kind: the EU-US Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) Agreement. By rejecting the first of the two agreements, the EP generally acted contrary to the preferences of the Council and United States, who were mostly in favour of the agreement. Despite this opposition, the EP gained few concessions from the United States and Council in the second round of negotiations for a permanent SWIFT Agreement, with their emphasis on security trumping most of the EP's data protection concerns. In sum, the use of theories on norm internalization allows us to conclude that, after Lisbon, the EP has abandoned its previous critical stances and is now becoming a new 'norm taker' within the EU-US relationship.

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ISSN: 1384-6299
ID: EERR2012015