German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande are calling for bilateral talks with the US before the end of the year over the spying allegations on its citizens and in the case of Merkel on her own cell phone.
“Spying between friends is simply unacceptable,” Merkel said as she arrived for the two-day European Union summit in Brussels. “We need trust between partners and such trust needs to be re-established,” she said.
The European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, explained that the EU members present in a summit in Brussels discussed “about recent developments concerning possible intelligence issues and the deep concerns that these events have raised among European citizens.”
Van Rompuy was conciliatory when he said that
“The Heads of State or government underlined the close relationship between Europe and the USA and the value of that partnership. They expressed their conviction that the partnership must be based on respect and trust, including as concerns the work and cooperation of secret services.
They stressed that intelligence gathering is a vital element in the fight against terrorism. This applies to relations between European countries as well as to relations with the USA. A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field of intelligence.”
He explain that more countries can join The Franco-German initiative
“The Heads of State or 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 on mutual relations in that field. They noted that other EU countries are welcome to join this initiative.
They also pointed to the existing Working Group between the EU and the USA on the related issue of data protection and called for rapid and constructive progress in that respect.”
What can we expect from such talks? Maybe a neutral measured joint statement after which the vulnerable ordinary citizens will have the same doubts and fears we have today: the suspicion that our governments are spying our communications simply because they can.
And despite the anger in the European governments over the spying scandal, Germany and others think that this “incident”doesn’t have to prevent the EU from going ahead with the upcoming free-trade talks with Washington. Trust failed and must be rebuilt, but meanwhile business is business.
Chancellor of Germany
Herman Van Rompuy
President of the European Council