EU bid for new spying rules with US

The 28 European Union leaders have endorsed a bid to get the United States to agree to new rules about spying.

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

The 28 European Union leaders have endorsed a bid to get the United States to agree to new rules about spying.

The move by Germany and France follows outrage over claims that the US has tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders.

Hannah Sinclair has the details.

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Talks at the European Union summit in Brussels have been overshadowed by the spying allegations.

A classified document purportedly shows the US National Security Agency worked closely with government departments to secure the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians.

The NSA memo from 2006 was provided by intelligence fugitive Edward Snowden and was published in the British newspaper, The Guardian.

The document suggests that the phones of 35 world leaders were routinely tracked.

There's been outrage in Germany over claims that Chancellor Angela Merkel was among those whose phone has been tapped.

German federal prosecutors say they're investigating whether German laws have been broken.

And Chancellor Merkel says the US must answer the claims.

"Translation: This is not about me. It's about every citizen. We need to have trust in our allies and partners. And this trust now has to be rebuilt. So I say again, spying on friends is unacceptable."

In an initial response, President Barack Obama has said the US isn't currently spying on Ms Merkel, and will not in the future.

But White House spokesman Jay Carney left open whether such spying had occurred in the past, saying the US is reviewing its intelligence-gathering practices.

"We have, when it comes to Germany and some other nations, that we've discussed broadly in relation to this issue we have enormously important and valuable and deep friendships and alliances with countries that require us to take very seriously concerns that are expressed."

At their summit in Brussels, EU leaders have endorsed a statement saying relations with the US must be based on respect and trust.

They say a lack of trust could compromise the necessary co-operation between agencies working in intelligence-gathering - a vital element in the fight against terrorism.

The EU leaders say other European countries may join talks being sought by France and Germany with the US by the end of the year

EU Commissioner Michel Barnier told the BBC it's an important issue.

"Enough is enough. Between friends, between allies we need trust we need confidence. And I think that this confidence has been shaken."

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt says proper safeguards are needed.

"Well, that is of course unacceptable. And I think it is very important that we understand that there is a capacity to do things where we need to secure that it's not used in the way it should not be used. And this is an example of what it should not be used for. It will never go away if we don't discuss how within legislation and with different safeguards ensure that it will not happen in the future."

Kiron Skinner from the Centre for International Relations and Politics in the US told the BBC the spying allegations are extremely damaging for US relations with European countries.

"So the US is in a very difficult position right now, because it's betraying its values if indeed these allegations turn out to be the case. And it's making it more difficult for European allies who are faithful to the fight against global terrorists to respond to their publics in terms of putting their own military's at risk to assist the US in this global conflict."

Allegations have also been made that the US monitored the communications of Brazilian and Mexican leaders.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff says spying is a violation of human rights, and that clear rules should be introduced to govern new technologies.

 

Source World News Australia

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