EU to U.S.: Stop bugging us

President Barack Obama disembarks from Air Force One at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, California, on June 6, 2013.

A multi-billion dollar free trade deal between the U.S. and Europe could be in jeopardy following the latest U.S. spying revelations. Documents leaked by the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden suggest the U.S. National Security Agency spied on European Union officials. Senior European politicians say this shows the U.S. is treating the EU like an enemy and has cast doubt over the EU-U.S. trade negotiations due to start next week.  

Snowden’s latest batch of leaked documents -- published in the German news  magazine Der Spiegel -- indicate American intelligence planted bugs in EU offices in New York and Washington, hacked into the EU’s internal computer system and eavesdropped on its phone network in Brussels. Conversations, phone calls, and emails were monitored.  

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, said that next week’s free trade talks can hardly go ahead in this climate of distrust.

"It’s not possible to negotiate if there’s no confidence on both sides, so I hope that President Obama and the administration in the United States will re-establish immediately this confidence that we need,”Asselborn said.

The Vice President of the European Parliament, Isabelle Durant, went further and called for the trade talks to be suspended if the spying allegations proved correct. 

So far the only high level reaction from the U.S. has come from Secretary of State John Kerry who said the alleged bugging of an ally is “not unusual in international relations.” 

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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