The NSA Spying Scandal and EU-US Trade Talks

The NSA Spying Scandal and EU-US Trade Talks

With negotiations on the TTIP set to begin in Washington in one week (July 8th), this is a particularly unfortunate time for the United States to be embroiled in a major spying scandal. And while it was bad enough that the NSA was found to have been spying on US citizens, revelations that European countries and EU bodies were also targeted has provoked a new wave of outrage. On Saturday, Der Spiegel released a report which claims that the EU delegation to Washington and to the UN in New York were bugged and had their computer systems infiltrated. According to the NSA documents dating from September 2010 which Spiegel editors themselves saw, European were explicitly mentioned as “targets” in the military sense (Angriffsziel in German). The report itself is strongly worded and repeatedly refers to the NSA’s espionage activities as “attacks”.

The classified documents apparently also mentioned the French, Italian and Greek embassies in Washington as further targets. According to the International Business Times, Germany was also “singled out for scrutiny as the NSA viewed Germany as being on par with nations such as China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, while at the same time it viewed other friendly English-speaking nations like the [UK] as needing much less scrutiny.”

Moreover, the NSA’s actions were not just limited to US soil but extended even to Brussels. The US stands accused of using a secret office at NATO headquarters to spy on the Justus Lipsius building in Belgium. This building is where the Council of the European Union meets and where numerous high-level negotiations amongst EU member states take place. Representatives from every EU member state have chambers to which they can retire to discuss the matters at hand amongst themselves and with their counterparts at home.

Today, numerous senior EU officials and political leaders from across the continent commented on the allegations. Viviane Reding, the EU justice commissioner, stated that “[w]e can’t negotiate a large transatlantic market if there is any doubt that our partners are bugging the offices of European negotiators. Partners do not spy on each other.”

The German justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, said that “if the media reports are true, it is reminiscent of actions among enemies during the Cold War.”

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at a press conference today on behalf of the US:

Every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs of national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that. And all I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations. But beyond that I’m not going to comment any further until I have all the facts and find out precisely what the situation is.

Read More:

Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid und Holger Stark – Geheimdokumente: NSA horcht EU-Vertretungen mit Wanzen aus - Der Spiegel

Eric Brown – NSA’s Transatlantic Surveillance May Sabotage European Free Trade Talks – International Business Times

Daniel Mason – US spying claims could hit EU trade talks – Public Service Europe

(Wikimedia Commons image courtesy of Jwh)

About the Author:

Sebastian Andrei is NABATAEANS’ editor for EU - Middle East Trade and Political Relations. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Vienna, where he majored in journalism with minors in political science as well as business and economics. Sebastian is responsible for reporting on the European Union’s external trade relations. He also writes about economic development and investment opportunities in Europe as well as about policy changes which affect the EU common market.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: