European MEPs have demanded a inquiry into the allegations that the US has been bugging European embassies and parliament buildings.
Many have reacted with fury to the revelations that appeared in a German newspaper, saying if true they expected such surveillance from enemies, not their closest economic partner.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz voiced the anger of the majority:
“It would be a very serious blow against trust and certainly if this proves true I will be raising an energetic objection against it. I understand the need for preventive measures against terrorism, this is necessary and requires the activity of security and secret services, but I don’t think that EU institutions are planning terrorist attacks.”
For his part President Barack Obama, who is visiting Tanzania, tried to smooth ruffled feathers claiming all spy agencies employ such methods.
“I think we should stipulate that every intelligence service, not just ours, but every European intelligence service, every Asian intelligence service, wherever there is an intelligence service, there is one thing they’re going to doing: they’re going to be trying to understand the world better and what’s going on in world capitals around the world from sources that are not available through the New York Times or NBC News.”
Speaking from one of the EU buildings in Washington said to have been bugged by the US, Lithuania’s Ambassador Zygimantas Pavilionis,was one of the few to play down the row.
“I don’t think it can have an impact on our overall very good relations with Americans,” he said.
Washington Correspondent for euronews, Stefan Grobe explained:
“Officially, there is no comment from the people in the building behind me. But privately, reactions range from disbelief to embarrassment to anger. This does not bode well for the US-EU trade talks that start a few blocks from here next week.”