The European Parliament has agreed to a new deal giving U.S. agencies access to bank data about Europeans' international transactions in order to combat terrorism. An earlier version of the accord between the U.S. and the European Commission had been blocked by the Parliament exercising its new authority under the Lisbon treaty. So the resolution now reaffirms a broader institutional accord on transatlantic cooperation to fight terrorist networking.

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The European Parliament seems set to approve the so-called “Swift Pact” this week in a second vote. The Parliament had rejected an initial deal between Washington and the European Commission on U.S. access to financial transactions – ostensibly on grounds that it violated privacy rights but also, as parliamentarians avow, because the parliament wanted to assert its new authority gained in the Lisbon Treaty.

Now, after some changes in the Commission’s terms with Washington, the pact seems set to go through. Passage will activate provisions for the U.S. Treasury to get access to data about financial transfers (often via the system known as SWIFT) for the purpose of identifying terrorists’ financial activities. In February, the Parliament rejected the initial SWIFT pact on grounds that it did not include enough measures for privacy protection.

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Ensuring a high-quality lifestyle is no challenge for European cities at their urban cores. A recent ranking of global cities – by special and sophisticated criteria reflecting modern priorities for living conditions – Europe claims 14 of the 25 top-ranked cities. The United States only made it into two slots, none in the top 10.

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A Pew Research opinion survey shows President Barack Obama maintaining his extraordinary popularity in Europe as a global leader – despite some political setbacks at home and abroad.

Ratings of America are overwhelmingly favorable in Western Europe. For example, 73% of French and 63% of Germans say they have a favorable view of the U.S. (Approval rates of America have also jumped sharply in Russia (57%), up 11 points, and in Japan (66%), up 7 points.) The new findings emerged from the latest edition of the annual Pew 22-nation survey of global attitudes. In most wealthier countries, he gets “an enthusiastic thumbs-up” for the way he has handled the world economic crisis.

The glaring exception is the U.S. itself, where as many people disapprove of his approach as approve.

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This well-reported narrative of Obama's experience with European leaders appeared this month in the National Journal, a respected, high-priced weekly in Washington. The article explains why the U.S. and Europe, as far as their leaders are concerned, often seem these days to be trains passing in the night. The tenor of Will Eugland's nicely-nuanced account --
Obama's Lukewarm Start with Europe -- is confirmed, in private, by officials on both sides of the Atlantic. The text was released to European Affairs, exceptionally, from the National Journal's subscriber-only content file thanks to the help of Tim Clark. A member of European Affairs' editorial advisory board, he works for the National Journal’s parent company, Atlantic Media Co.

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