European authorities need to be able to tap into data from the SWIFT bank payments network as part of a push to clamp down on the financing of militant groups, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Monday.
Sapin said that the SWIFT system had two computer servers, one in Europe and one in the United States, but that Europe currently relied on U.S. authorities to collect and analyse the vast amounts of data flowing through it to detect security issues.
"We Europeans don't have the capacity to exploit our own data. I don't think this can carry on this way," Sapin told a news conference. "Since we do not have the means to analyse the data located in Europe, we transfer all of this data to the Americans, who have the capacity to analyse it."
Efforts to curb financing of militant groups have intensified since the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 by Islamic State-backed gunmen and bombers.
Belgian-based SWIFT, or Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, operates services transmitting letters of credit, payments and securities transactions among 9,700 banks in 209 countries.
SWIFT says on its website that it is subject to binding requests to provide the U.S. Treasury with data from its European server "for the purpose of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of terrorism or terrorist financing".
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Callus and David Stamp)