The EU-US trade agreement, victim of right-wing extremists and security lunatics

European Parliament. Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, LIBE, meeting. Discussion on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens by the NSA. Moraes, Claude (third from left), Constanze Kurz, Dominique Guibert, Nick Pickles. (EP Audiovisual Services, 14/10/2013).

European Parliament. Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, LIBE, meeting. Discussion on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens by the NSA. Moraes, Claude (third from left), Constanze Kurz, Dominique Guibert, Nick Pickles. (EP Audiovisual Services, 14/10/2013).

The 17 days, that the extreme right (Tea Party politicians) of the US Republican Party forced the American administration to partially shut down, have already cost the GOP the mayorship of New York and the governorship of Virginia, but have also endangered their country’s trade agreement with their closest economic partner, the European Union. The European Sting has been following this story very closely.

Late on Friday night 4 October, the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman informed EU’s Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, that “due to the ongoing furlough, the US Administration will not be able to send to Brussels next week officials from USTR and US Government agencies to maintain the planned second round of negotiations in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). All negotiation sessions planned for next week (7-11 October 2013) in Brussels are therefore cancelled”.

Shutting trade partnership down

That was an unexpected impediment in the multi trillion trade and investment agreement between the two largest economic entities of the world. If it was only for the American administration shut down, the EU and the US could have easily, within days, set another date for their second round of negotiations over the TTIP. However as they say ‘bad things come in pairs’.

The NSA scandal of taping millions of European targets and the German leader Angela Merkel then broke out, and created a new unfavourable political environment for the continuation of talks for the TTIP. At this point, it has to be noted that the EU and the US had repeatedly tried to start negotiations over a bilateral trade and investments agreement, but every time some powerful lobby blocked it. This time though, the two sides had managed to do it, that is, to start negotiations for a trans-Atlantic close economic partnership.

Now the American surveillance of Europeans has rendered very precarious every effort to revive those negotiations on trade and investments. Even more so, due to the forthcoming European elections of May 2014, with all and every EU politician being now very itchy over his/her image. Consequently, the US is not any more at the apex of its popularity in Europe. In many ways, the European Parliament has connected the two affairs, the NSA scandal and the trade agreement.

Change of climate

EU legislator Claude Moraes headed a delegation of his peers, members of the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament, to a trip to Washington towards the end of October. The purpose of this trip was clearly the fact that the allegations of the US conducting a mass surveillance of Europeans, could jeopardise the ongoing free-trade agreement talks. The EP’s civil liberties committee launched an inquiry to find out the truth. To this effect, some members from the civil liberties and foreign affairs committees met with US representatives in Washington to discuss the allegations.

Moraes, in an interview spoke about the findings of this Committee. He was asked about possible legal remedies to safeguard Europeans’ privacy. The legislator said that there are may be such remedies. Then he added “When we complete our report in February 2014 and present it to Parliament, we will present a legal framework to protect EU citizens. It will include, for example, issues like whether there should be a remedy in law for EU citizens when data is transferred to the USA. At the moment those remedies are inadequate. The report will look at issues such as Safe Harbour, the arrangement whereby when data is transferred to the United States, companies in the US have an obligation to protect that data. It will also look at our many arrangements with the United States like SWIFT and PNR, to make sure that all these arrangements are safe and secure and do what they are supposed to do, which is to fight terrorism but protect our data while we are doing it”.

Then he was asked if there still enough trust between the EU and the US to successfully conclude a free-trade agreement between them. He answered like that, “The EU and the US are fundamentally allies and when it comes to important issues like trade, jobs and investment, this is where our alliance must be very strong and I have a belief that in time we will get this trade agreement. However, it is important that this trade agreement is built on trust and there’s no question that the recent spying allegations and allegations of mass surveillance have done two things: they have dented trust between the EU and the US and secondly, they have slightly damaged the issue of commercial trust. This is not just a question of invasion of citizens’ privacy, it is also a question of unanswered allegations about the breaking of encryption, of backdoors into commercial activities, and I think this is where there was some breakdown of trust. So, this is about a process of rebuilding trust. If that happens, my belief is that the EU-US trade deal is something that of course will happen”.

Anti-American feelings

As it is easily understood, the trade agreement between the EU and the US is now closely interconnected with the American surveillance issue. As Moraes concluded, there should first be a rebuilding of trust between the two sides. Then the “EU-US trade deal is something that of course will happen”. The obvious conclusion is that negotiations for the transatlantic TTIP have been postponed for an unknown date.

This development would cost to both sides thousands of jobs that the trade and investment agreement was supposed to create on both sides, despite its shortcomings. At this point, it must be mentioned, that while the EU legislators were in Washington, a Republican congressman related to Tea Party circles, tried to undermine the talks. He stated that the NSA is doing a good job in taping all those millions of Europeans.

Not to forget that the Americans had insisted that the TTIP agreement would not cover issues related to protection of financial data. Now it will be very difficult for them to support this position. Returning to the doings of the Republican Party, this story has a very strong moral. If the GOP continues to be dragged by its extreme right Tea Party group, it will be not only their country to pay the price in its international relations, but the party itself should forget the possibility of electing the successor of Barack Obama.

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

Czech PM should resolve his conflict of interest as a matter of urgency say MEPs

What makes Copenhagen the world’s most bike-friendly city?

Huawei answers allegations about its selling prices

Europe and UN form bulwark against ‘might makes right’ worldview, EU foreign affairs chief tells Security Council

A shocking new report reveals what we’ve done to the natural world

New UN bullying report calls for ‘safe, inclusive’ schools for all children

Responding to the anger

We have to fight for a fairer tech industry for women

‘Act now with ambition and urgency’ to tackle the world’s ‘grave climate emergency’, UN chief urges UAE meeting

How smart tech helps cities fight terrorism and crime

EU allocates €50 million to fight Ebola and malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of Congo

2020’s ‘wind of madness’ indicates growing instability: UN chief

Populist Eurosceptics helped by Trumpists seriously threaten the EU edifice

Reasons to hope and reasons to keep perspective on a vaccine

Migration: Commission steps up emergency assistance to Spain and Greece

A voice from Syria: the positive prospect of clinical research despite the excruciating circumstances

Beyond trust: Why we need a paradigm shift in data-sharing

What paleoecology can teach us about fires in the Amazon

‘Building back better’ – here’s how we can navigate the risks we face after COVID-19

Coronavirus: the truth against the myths: Lockdown by a novel coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV

Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting

More than 90 per cent of Africa migrants would make perilous Europe journey again, despite the risks

EU-Russia relations: the beginning of a warmer winter?

Guterres underscores UN role in achieving a free, secure Internet

Clean Mobility: Commission tables proposal on car emissions testing in real driving conditions

Brussels Vs. Google: The €1 bn EU fine and the US response

Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €127 million to boost EU’s largest ever humanitarian programme

Data show EU Economy in a stubbornly subdued state

Job vacancy data reveal better prospects for Britain, stagnation in Eurozone

From drone swarms to modified E. Coli: say hello to a new wave of cyberattacks

African elephants under continued threat of poaching, warns UN-backed report

We can build a carbon-neutral world by 2050. Here’s how

The road ahead to building a more sustainable world

The German automotive industry under the Trump spell

Western Balkans’ leaders meeting: EU reinforces support to address COVID-19 crisis and outlines proposal for post-pandemic recovery

Somalia: UN Security Council condemns terrorist attack in which dozens were killed or injured

The EU Parliament and the ECB unknowingly or unwillingly fail to protect our financial assets

Nothing about us without us: how youth empowerment creates lasting change in the climate meltdown

On sidelines of UN climate summit, US President calls for protection of religious freedom

Mark Zuckerberg will be at the European Parliament today to meet President Tajani and the political group chairpersons

Island nations on climate crisis frontline ‘not sitting idly by’

Coronavirus: Commission presents practical guidance on implementing the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU

Now’s the time to take up cycling – here are 6 reasons why

The 10 most common types of plastic choking Europe’s rivers

The European Brain Drain: hard facts and harder truths

Crackdown on Christians in Eritrea spurs UN expert to press Government ‘to live up to its international commitments’

In Finland, speeding tickets are linked to your income

Switzerland to favour EU citizens in immigration quotas as the risk of a new referendum looms

Employment MEPs reach consensus with Commission on workers’ health and safety

Mediterranean and Black Seas: Commission proposes fishing opportunities for 2020

EU mobilises €9 million to tackle the food crisis in Haiti

COVID-19 is an unmissable chance to put people and the planet first

Fighting against the Public Health System dismantling means guaranteeing assistance to all

This woman changed the world of work – and you’ve probably never heard of her

The story of 2018, in 10 charts

Checks, fines, crisis reserve: MEPs vote on EU farm policy reform

How COVID-19 might help us win the fight against climate change

Venezuela’s needs ‘significant and growing’ UN humanitarian chief warns Security Council, as ‘unparalleled’ exodus continues

EU and UK soon to be in a post-Brexit rush over free trade agreement with Australia

Most leaders are missing this crucial character trait

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

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

You are commenting using your 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