LibLink…Sophie in’t Veld and Guy Verhofstadt: Europe must get tough with the US over NSA spying revelations

ALDE MEPs Sophie in’t Veld and Guy Verhofstadt pull no punches in an article in the Guardian about the US spying revelations, saying that Europe has only itself to blame for treating the US with awe to the extent that it was bound to start taking liberties:

The truth is that for too long, the EU and its member states have been prioritising cosy relations with the US over the interests of their own citizens. The spying scandal will now put Europe to the test. It must show that it is both willing and able to protect the rights of European citizens and uphold its core principles. In order to do this, the EU must grow up, shape up and become a mature political actor.

They outline a series of steps that must be taken to stand up to the US and show the administration that it can’t just spy on our citizens when they feel like it.  They want a European Parliament enquiry, a temporary revocation of data sharing agreements, looking again at all EU counter-terrorism measures and re-inserting safeguards protecting against foreign governments putting EU citizens under surveillance. They also want to ensure that this issue is resolved before negotiations on trade and investment come to a final conclusion:

At the same time, no final agreement on a transatlantic trade and investment agreement between the EU and US – which will see negotiations launched this week – should be signed until this issue has been satisfactorily resolved. There must be full transparency over the talks and the issue of the transfer of personal data should be emphatically excluded from the scope of the agreement. The basic rights of EU citizens should not be sacrificed in the name of economic growth.

They argue that the EU/US relationship will be healthier if the EU stands up to the Americans:

Ultimately, it is in everybody’s interest to make the “special relationship” more equal and healthy. A stronger Europe will be both a better partner for the US and a better guarantor of EU citizens’ rights. The EU must now translate its words into actions, and take the necessary steps to ensure that the transatlantic alliance is not threatened by such scandals in future.

You can read the full article here.

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  • I never thought the day would come that I agreed with Guy Verhofstadt, but he’s absolutely spot on with respect of the EU/UK reaction to the NSA data trawl and capture.
    Indeed, can someone explain to me why, here in the UK, when we found out that the press were hacking phones, we ‘freaked out’, and had a very expensive Leveson Inquiry, but when the NSA and GCHQ jointly, hack everyone’s phones, emails, and internet connections, we get from the government ….
    SILENCE ! ?
    Isn’t it time we had someone on our government benches with the cojones to stand up to our ‘allies?’, the USA?

  • If liberals are to do only one thing it should be to stand up for the rights of citizens against those who abuse positions of power – in this case the over-mighty state. It’s becoming clear that we have seen the emergence of what David Malone accurately calls the ‘shadow state’, a power structure lurking behind the visible façade of democracy and pulling the strings.

  • jedibeeftrix writes:
    “As part of the five eyes program of which the anglosphere nations are members we agree to pool intelligence. This IS the special relationship in the main. Officially, the US does not spy on tier 2 nations which includes the five eyes members (the US is the tier one), and while it cooperates with tier 3 nations they have no such guarantee. ”
    I have absolutely zero idea what you are talking about, when you speak of ‘eyes’ and ‘tiers’ of relationship with the USA.
    What I do know, is that it is utterly wrong for a free individual, to have their communications intervened and monitored without reason within a supposedly free and democratic society.
    And given that the USA is doing exactly that, we can say for certain that the USA has gone way, way past its jurisdiction, and it’s time we (UK/Westminster/Con/Lib/Lab) said so.
    As an aside, Edward Snowden is a hero, that has put his life on the line to bring this to our attention, and to Europe’s and the UK’s utter shame he is being treated as a pariah.

  • nuclear cockroach 3rd Jul '13 - 8:11pm

    @jb – “five eyes” indeed. Give it a rest. Australia and New Zealand are opposed to nuclear weapons: one remembers some the NZ government telling the US Navy to hop it a few years back. Never mind the spats with the French. Sure there are many foreign and defence interests in common, but there are vast gulfs separating them, too. “Five eyes” is only ever invoked in British politics, as a last ditch appeal to irrational English speaking chauvinism and a shared history.

  • nuclear cockroach 3rd Jul '13 - 10:14pm

    As I said, fall for the “five eyes” guff and you’ll fall for anything. Hammond was bleating about it the other day, too. Says it all.

  • nuclear cockroach 3rd Jul '13 - 11:07pm

    Conspiracies? What are you chuntering about.

    “Five eyes” – sure it was relevant when the British Empire and the United States were in league with the Soviet Union in fighting fascism, particularly as the Brits, their Dominions and the Yanks didn’t trust Uncle Joe as far as they could dropkick him. It was even relevant for a long period thereafter, as France had fallen out with NATO and we were fighting a Cold War together. However, the British Empire has been dismantled since then, the Cold War is history, Oz and the Kiwis have gone their own way, and this “five eyes” stuff is now mostly nostalgia by the Daily Telegraph’s Colonel Mads (Armchair Division) for when the good guys all spoke English.

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