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Merkel's mobile dominates EU summit chatter

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Merkel's mobile dominates EU summit chatter


Angela Merkel’s mobile phone was one of the most talked out issues of the week – especially at an EU summit in Brussels.

Although EU officials spend months preparing the council conclusions on topics like the digital single market and innovation, since news broke on Wednesday that the German Chancellor’s mobile phone had been tapped, a Franco-German plan to create an intelligence-gathering rule book with the US emerged.

Angela Merkel gave an assurance that it would not be just a Franco-German effort, and that all member states would have to do their own leg work and contact the US authorities themselves.

“Germany and France are not going to talk to the US as a combined team. Each country will have to get in touch with the American security authorities separately,” she said.

For his part, French President Francois Hollande said he hoped to see and end to the spying soon: “Along with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Council, we decided to create a common framework for cooperation with the United States so that there is no more spying and monitoring of this kind.”

On Monday nine lawmakers from the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee are due to visit Washington.

Adamant that they must find out more about the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens by America’s NSA, they plan to discuss the EU data protection reform and any other programme that impacts EU citizens’ privacy.

They will also talk about deals with the US on the transfer of bank data and air passengers’ data.

The President of the Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, said the Parliament had already taken the decision to suspend the SWIFT agreement until they are sure what the American intelligence services are doing with the data.

SWIFT was signed back in 2010 between Brussels and Washington so that the EU could provide the US authorities with bank transfer data of EU residents in order to help fight terrorism.

“We have only taken the decision within the European Parliament, that we have to suspend the SWIFT agreement, until we know exactly what is happening: what data is used by the American intelligence services, and if they are doing that within the framework of our agreements, or without the framework of the agreements,” Verhofstadt said.

Spain’s government has also called on the US ambassador to Madrid, James Costos, to explain the latest allegations at a meeting on Monday in the Spanish capital.

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