At EU Meeting, France And Germany Push For New Spying Rules
October 25, 2013
The European Union says France and Germany have urged Washington to agree rules for espionage after damaging revelations that the United States tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.
At an EU summit in Brussels, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the leaders of Germany and France will seek to negotiate an 'understanding' with Washington on the work of intelligence services in the next two months.
'The heads of states and government took note of the intention of France and Germany to seek bilateral talks with the USA with the aim of finding, before the end of the year, an understanding of mutual relations in that field,' Van Rompuy said early on October 25, before the start of the second day day of an EU summit in Brussels. 'They noted that other EU countries are welcome to join this initiative.'
In a separate statement, EU leaders 'underlined the close relationship between Europe and the USA and the value of that partnership.'
The statement warned that 'intelligence gathering is a vital element in the fight against terrorism' but added that mutual distrust 'could prejudice' counterterrorism cooperation.
Speaking to journalists early on October 25, Merkel said France and Germany want to 'create a framework' with the United States on surveillance.
'I think the most important thing is to find a basis for the future on which we can operate and as I said today trust needs to be rebuilt, which implies that trust has been severely shaken, and the members of the European Union shared those concerns today,' Merkel said. 'But we all know that we have such important tasks in the world that we can only master together, and that we are responsible for our mutual security that we simply need to look into the future. Obviously words will not be sufficient. True change is necessary.'
However, according to a BBC report, despite the anger about U.S. spying, Merkel opposed suggestions to suspend trade talks with Washington.
EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that for many Europeans, eavesdropping on their phone calls or reading their e-mails is particularly objectionable because it raises the specter of totalitarian regimes like the fascists and communists of decades past.
'Obviously, the revelations over the recent months and days have shaken personal privacy and data security,' Barroso said. 'This is a very serious issue because for us Europeans these are fundamental values. This is exactly why we will keep pushing for the adoption of the proposed legislation of data protection.'
Meanwhile, Britain's 'Guardian' newspaper revealed on October 25 that Washington had intercepted the phone conversations of 35 world leaders.
The report did not name the leaders who were spied on by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The report, based on a classified document provided by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, said a U.S. official had given the NSA more than 200 phone numbers for 35 leaders that had been provided by the White House, Defense Department, and State Department.
The EU summit on October 25 was supposed to tackle immigration amid a growing number of deaths of refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.
Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and dpa
Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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