EU-US trade agreement talks to be affected by American bugs

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship (first from right) went to Dublin to participate in the EU/US Justice Ministerial Meeting. Eric Holder, US Attorney General (first from left), and Alan Shatter, Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence also took part in the event. Discussions focused on data protection, rights of victims of crime, judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and judicial cooperation in civil matters (EC Audiovisual Services, 14/06/2013).

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship (first from right) went to Dublin to participate in the EU/US Justice Ministerial Meeting. Eric Holder, US Attorney General (first from left), and Alan Shatter, Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence also took part in the event. Discussions focused on data protection, rights of victims of crime, judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and judicial cooperation in civil matters (EC Audiovisual Services, 14/06/2013).

Bugging EU institutions’ premises and members states’ offices in the US by American secret agencies may seriously affect the progress of negotiations for the conclusion of a Free Trade and Investments Agreement between the two largest trading partners of the world. While the first reactions by EU dignitaries, after the revealing publications by Der Spiegel and The Guardian, didn’t contain references to the possibility of holding back negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), yesterday’s developments do not exclude that.

The issue was discussed yesterday in the European Parliament and the Commission College. On both occasions direct or indirect reserves were voiced over the progress of negotiations for the trade agreement. The relevant Press releases issued by the Commission and the EU Parliament contain clear references to the impossibility of continuing negotiations, as if nothing happened, with a trade partner who uses such unorthodox methods. On top of that there were strong reactions by EU member state governments. In Paris the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, observed that the French government doesn’t spy on the American mission in France. Strong negative reactions were also recorded in Berlin and other EU capitals. Let’s follow the facts.

The Parliament

Staring from the European Parliament, the EU legislators discussed with top EU leaders the PRISM affair in a house plenary yesterday. Everybody agreed that clarity is urgently needed on the spy scandal. Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, DE) called for an immediate halt to preparations to open trade talks with the United States in the wake of press reports that the US might have spied on European institutions both inside and outside the EU. “The talks should not be opened until the magnitude of the problem is checked”, she said. Of course her statement didn’t reflect the opinion of all MEPs, but just the fact that a ‘full stop’ of the FTA negotiations was voiced in the EU Parliament plenary is not a minor thing at all.

Even more important was the intervention of Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). The Belgian ex-Prime Minister advocated the setting up of an inquiry committee and Hannes Swoboda, leader of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, said that a data protection package should be in place before trade talks start. The two leaders represent the third and the second largest groups respectively of the European Parliament. Their interventions cannot be ignored.

The Commission

The same mood also prevailed in the Commission College during the discussions on the reported US intelligence activities targeting EU institutions and member states. A Press release issued afterwards concluded like this: “The College (of Commissioners) considered that whilst the beginning of EU/US trade negotiation should not be affected, the EU side will make it clear that for such a comprehensive and ambitious negotiation to succeed, there needs to be confidence, transparency and clarity among the negotiating partners”.

There is no doubt that there will be both short and long-term repercussions on EU – US relations. The beginning of the FTA negotiations will be delayed for sure. In the long-term the European Union will ask for guarantees along the lines of the letter of the US Attorney General Holder to Commission Vice-President Reding and Commissioner Malmström regarding the launch of the EU/US high level expert group on oversight of intelligence activities.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

What’s the latest on coronavirus antibody tests?

Remembering Kofi Annan

Female leaders warn about the erosion of women’s rights

Yemen: Escalation in fighting must stop ‘before it’s too late’, Griffiths tells Security Council

Romania: MEPs are deeply concerned about judicial independence and rule of law

Zuckerberg, a paella, and the mighty EU questionnaires that would stop Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook?

UN cultural agency removes birthplace of Jesus from its list of heritage sites in danger

How the massive plan to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine could make history – and leverage blockchain like never before

EU tourism industry expects a new record year in 2014

Youth leaders share positive visions of the future, as Guterres launches UN75 in New York

Apple Vs. EU: Will the US tech giant ever pay for taking advantage of Ireland’s taxation?

COVID-19 lessons learned: stronger role for EU medicines regulator

Mergers: Commission prohibits Siemens’ proposed acquisition of Alstom

A Sting Exclusive: “There can be no global deal on emissions without China and the USA”, Conservative MEP Ian Duncan stresses from Brussels

UN forum spotlights cities, where struggle for sustainability ‘will be won or lost’

This is the state of the world’s health, in numbers

Peru is building a new international airport near Machu Picchu – and archaeologists are worried

The new ethical dilemmas in medicine of the 21st century

Commission extends transparency and authorisation mechanism for exports of COVID-19 vaccines

Is the world living up to its climate commitments?

A Sting Exclusive: “Asia-Pacific response to COVID-19 and climate emergency must build a resilient and sustainable future”, by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General

Fed, ECB take positions to face the next global financial crisis; the Brits uncovered

The gender gap in medicine: why must it be closed?

Trump: Hostile to Europe, voids Tillerson’s “ironclad” ally pledge

Eurozone in trouble after Nicosia’s ‘no’

The future of energy is being shaped in Asia

Vaccine against Ebola: Commission grants first-ever market authorisation

Five ways individuals can help save the oceans

Why remote working doesn’t have to mean alienated employees

3 principles to reinforce digital trust in supply chains

Food safety critical to development and ending poverty: FAO deputy chief

Commission welcomes political support by Member States to improve the protection of bees

UN panel to rally global political will to tackle internal displacement crisis

Deal on digitalisation of access to justice will benefit citizens

How the digital finance revolution can drive sustainable development

Commission Vice-President Rehn exaggerates Eurozone’s growth prospects

This NASA-inspired technology converts carbon dioxide into food. Here’s how

How cities, not states, can solve the world’s biggest problems

How to stop plastic pollution at source

Working fewer hours makes you more efficient. Here’s the proof

Mexico cannot move forward ‘without addressing the shadows of the past’, says UN rights chief

Rule of law: MEPs travel to Malta to meet with government, NGOs and journalists

Tsipras imposes more austerity on insolvent Greece; plans to win new early election soon

Coronavirus: here’s what you need to know about face masks

A critical European young voice on Net Neutrality: the distance between Brussels and Washington

How to build public trust in a sustainable energy future

Syria: Urgent, concrete actions needed, to protect children too young to ‘make sense of this senseless war’

Universal Health Coverage in the EU: Are we really leaving no one behind?

This Japanese experiment shows how easily coronavirus can spread – and what you can do about it

This start-up is recycling abandoned wooden homes in Baltimore

Conflict prevention, mediation: among ‘most important tools’ to reduce human suffering, Guterres tells Security Council

A European student just sets the question of the day: What kind of education policies are missing in Europe?

MEPs approve new CO2 emissions limits for trucks

Combat against devastating effects of tobacco can only be won ‘if the UN stands united’ – UN health official

State aid: Commission approves €2.5 billion Italian scheme to support self-employed and healthcare professionals in context of coronavirus outbreak

Sudan Prime Minister survives attempted assassination

Yemen war: UN-backed talks to silence the guns due to begin in Stockholm

As Libya talks resume in Geneva, UN negotiator seeks to overcome sticking points

The health of the human being in coexistence with a transformative biosphere

This disability activist says we must offer dignity and financial inclusion rather than just braille and ramps

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s