EU-US trade talks go ahead despite Prism and civil rights breach

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission (on the right), went to Berlin, where he met with Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor. (EC Audiovisual Services, 03/07/2013).

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission (on the right), went to Berlin, where he met with Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor. (EC Audiovisual Services, 03/07/2013).

Apart from the largely hypocritical cries by European politicians mainly in Brussels about civil rights breaches, the only concrete and immediate implications that the American PRISM scandal could have had on EU-US relations refers to the Free Trade and Investments Agreement that the two sides are about to negotiate. For one thing European citizens are kept in the dark if those negotiations have already started. As for the protection of private data and civil rights, the whole affair is a laughable matter, because nobody believes that governments show a genuine interest in that. The facts cited below will support this extreme position. Let’s take one thing at a time.

The European Parliament

Already the European Parliament while deciding to launch an inquiry into US surveillance programmes, also expressed “grave concern about allegations that similar surveillance programmes are run by several EU member states, such as the UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany and Poland. It urges them to examine whether those programmes are compatible with EU law”. The conclusion the average European can draw from this EU Parliament statement is that civil society in the EU (as in the US) is as unprotected as ever vis-à-vis all and every government secret agency American or European alike.

Returning to the trade agreement the European Parliament didn’t have the appetite to put pressure on the Americans where it hurts most; trade. Instead of that during a debate in a house Plenary session, European legislators appeared negative over taking any measures that might hurt our American partners even slightly. Of course there was a lot of discussion about trust and other nice words, but when things reached the heart of the matter, no action whatsoever was taken.

A relevant Press release by the Parliament goes like that: ”The US should come clean over allegations that is has been spying on the EU and its people, the majority of political groups said in a debate on Prism on 3 July. However, they disagreed on whether the revelations should affect negotiations for a transatlantic free trade agreement. Some MEPs stressed the need for facts before judging and pointed out that surveillance was necessary to safeguard people’s security. There is also an urgent need to beef up EU data protection rules, most agreed”.

In reality this “urgent need to beef up EU data protection rules” was always there, regardless what the EU deputies thought about it. Some European politicians though seem even more concerned about the well-being and the ability of the secret services to do their ‘job’, rather than protect private data or civil rights. Niki Tzavela, a Greek member of the EFD Parliamentary group, stressed that “surveillance was necessary to safeguard the security of people: Security is the issue, and security is what governments have to take care of.” Understandably Tzavela wants all possible and impossible security services to continue their ‘work’ quite unobstructed and unaccountable.

Almost like Tzavela, Vytautas Leškevičius, Lithuania’s vice-minister for foreign and European affairs, who spoke in the Parliament on behalf of the Presidency, said: “It happens to be our most important strategic partner and ally, but that doesn’t mean that we should remain silent.” However, he added that he did not want to create the impression that intelligence gathering by a foreign nation could be easily addressed by EU legislation. Lithuania holds as from 1 July the rotating Presidency of the European Council and obviously its vice-minster believes that intelligence is more important than democracy.

The Commission

It is even more interesting to follow what the European Commission had to say about the impact of the alleged U.S. surveillance of the EU on the start of negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Not to forget that Commission is the only EU institution that can take immediate action against the US, by holding back negotiations on the trade agreement.

Manuel Barroso, the President of the Commission when asked about it by a journalist had a lot to say. He delivered a long speech about how important this trade agreement is for the two partners. Then he said “For it to be a success we need confidence among partners and confidence can come better if there is a clarification of some issues that are of very serious concern at European level. I am happy to say that the other European institutions here represented, and of course France and Germany, have fully supported this approach”.

Barroso in reality stated that an American clarification will do the job and Germany and France agree to that. Case closed…and the conclusion is that trade is more important than civil rights and democracy. In cases like that, people can also draw general conclusions about the slippery path our western democracies have taken.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

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

Trade wars won’t fix globalization. Here’s why

Bram in Colombia

Why do medical curricula shouldn’t neglect the Sustainable Development Goals

European Union presents its progress towards sustainable development

UN rights chief Bachelet appeals for dialogue in Sudan amid reports ‘70 killed’ in demonstrations

Yemen hospital airstrike under investigation amid resurgence of deadly cholera

UN’s Grandi slams ‘toxic language of politics’ aimed at refugees, migrants

UN chief condemns suspected Boko Haram attacks targeting Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Nigeria

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

What the US and the world can expect from the 8 November election?

Circular Plastics Alliance: 100+ signatories commit to use 10 million tons of recycled plastic in new products by 2025

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

Talent, not technology, is the key to success in a digital future

Workplace bullies could now go to jail in South Korea

Ending extreme poverty crucial to sustainable future for all: UN chief

The importance of collaboration in the digital economy

There isn’t a single country on track to make the UN’s targets for gender equality

‘Once lost, hearing doesn’t come back,’ World Health Organization warns on World Hearing Day

UN chief welcomes G20 commitment to fight climate change

‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ clean-up project launches trial run: UN Environment

A Sting Exclusive, the European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger writes for the Sting on “EU Industry: a major energizer”

The ECB still protects the banks at the expense of the EU taxpayers

Light at the end of the Eurozone tunnel

Happens now in Brussels: Green Week sets the EU and global climate policy agenda

3 ways we are making an impact on plastic pollution

OECD joins with Argentina to fight financial crime

Militias force nearly 2,000 to leave Libyan capital’s largest shelter for internally-displaced: UNHCR

Are e-cigarettes as safe as they claim to be?

G20 World Exclusive Interview: “The world, especially emerging economies and developing countries, require a more sustainable and quality development”, the Spokesperson of Japan underscores live from Antalya Turkey

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

Capital markets selloff: The financial moguls send messages to monetary authorities

‘From farm to plate’, first-ever World Food Safety Day demonstrates the need to take unsafe food off the menu

The world’s economy is only 9% circular. We must be bolder about saving resources

Romanian Presidency priorities discussed in committees

7 key authors from Switzerland’s literary scene

EU’s Mogherini visits Turkey “to step up engagement” and highlight interests

Mental health at stake: A silent epidemic of 21st century

New EU rules to boost crowdfunding platforms and protect investors

We can meet the SDGs using the wisdom of crowds. Here’s how

Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere break another record, UN report shows

UN refugee agency ‘deeply shocked’ at stabbing death of ‘deeply courageous’ Polish mayor

A day that Berlin and Brussels would remember for a long time

EU budget for 2019: do more for the young, SMEs and the climate, urge MEPs

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into joint ventures proposed by Boeing and Embraer

European Commission statement on the adoption of the new energy lending policy of the European Investment Bank Group

Lagarde’s metamorphoses, not a laughing matter

Why Africa must be ready to take the quantum leap

Facebook: MEPs demand a full audit by EU bodies to assess data protection

Impossible Brexit options: WTO or new referendum?

Rule of Law: Commission launches infringement procedure to protect the independence of the Polish Supreme Court

From DIY editing to matchmaking by DNA: how human genomics is changing society

These are the world’s healthiest nations

Amidst high trade tensions and policy uncertainty, UN cuts economic growth forecast

Public climate finance to developing countries is rising

Water is a growing source of global conflict. Here’s what we need to do

Air quality: Commission takes action to protect citizens from air pollution

One small flight for a drone, one ‘big leap’ for global health

3 things the G20 can do to save the World Trade Organization

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