European leaders led by France and Germany are seeking to define a spying "code of conduct" with the US, following the latest allegation surrounding National Security Agency spying that has caused "deep concern among European citizens".
France and Germany will push Friday for Washington to agree to new rules for the spying game following damaging revelations that the United States tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone and snooped on millions of French telephone calls.
The revelations have embarrassed European leaders, and they need to be seen taking a stand by their shocked electorates.
The extent of the NSA’s activities, and especially the report that Merkel’s phone had been bugged, have led to widespread “outrage and indignation that has united politicians, the media and the population,” FRANCE 24’s Berlin correspondent Jessica Saltz said.
However, intelligence sources say there the extent of US electronic surveillance is hardly shocking.
On Thursday, France’s former spy boss Bernard Squarcini said there was “nothing to be surprised about”, adding that France spied on the US with equal enthusiasm.
And one former CIA operations officer told AFP Thursday that Germany should even view the close attention paid to Merkel by the US intelligence services as “a compliment”.
More public anger could follow after a fresh slew of damaging revelations, published late Thursday by left-leaning British daily The Guardian, saying Washington had in fact listened in on the phone conversations of 35 world leaders.
'Partnership must be based on trust'
Germany summons US ambassador over spying allegations
Germany’s foreign minister summoned the United States’ ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson, on Thursday to discuss allegations that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been monitored, a government spokesman said on Thursday.
The move comes a day after Merkel called US President Barack Obama to demand an explanation, warning that if true, the act would amount to a “grave breach of trust”.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
The revelations have dominated a two-day EU Summit, due to end on Friday.
In a statement released late on Thursday night, the leaders of the 28-state EU "underlined the close relationship between Europe and the USA and the value of that partnership", but “expressed their conviction that the partnership must be based on respect and trust, including as concerns the work and cooperation of secret services".
The French president said there had to be a code of conduct put in place, recalling that the EU had set up a special unit to review the issue after leaks by fugitive former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year.
These experts have to "accelerate their work with our American allies", Hollande said, because "this is a subject which is not going away".
"We need to get results," he said, adding that in the end, Snowden's revelations may even prove useful.
The new understanding the Europeans want also "applies to relations between European countries as well as to relations with the US", he said.
While intelligence gathering is a vital element in the fight against terrorism, there is "deep concern among European citizens", he added.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-10-25