In the wake of new Prism revelations appearing in Der Spiegel, European parliament president Martin Schulz has formally demanded that the US clarify whether they, in fact, spied on their European allies. Der Spiegel has reportedly viewed documents provided by Snowden which allegedly show how, starting in September 2010, the US spied on EU offices in Washington and Brussels, EU internal networks, as well as those of the EU’s member states and the UN. The operation was quite extensive including phone tapping as well as installing spyware on EU computer networks to access documents and emails. The document also allegedly referred to the EU as a ‘target’. France was, of course, not spared either. In fact, it appears that France, along with Germany, Italy, and Greece were specifically named in the agency’s list of 38 targets. In fact, the document apparently demonstrated in excruciating detail the thoroughness of the program, including the fact that on an average day the NSA monitored an average of 20M German phone connections (which on busy days could reach 60M) and 10M internet datasets.
All of this has caught the EU leaders off-guard and, not surprisingly, reactions have been swift and harsh in the wake of the latest revelations. Schulz declared that if the allegations were in fact true, there would be “a severe impact on relations between the European trade bloc and the US.” Luxemburg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn even went so far as to say that the allegations were “disgusting” and that “the US would be better off monitoring its secret services rather than its allies. We must get a guarantee from the very highest level now that this stops immediately.” Of course, all this harks back to the Cold War period, which is bound to send shivers up many European leaders’ spines. Germany, which appears to have been a primary focus of the spying program, didn’t waste any time making the Cold War analogy.
These new elevations couldn’t have come at a worse possible time as the EU and US have actively been negotiating a multi-billion dollar free trade agreement. Europe, which has been struggling to pull itself out of a seemingly endless recession, was depending on the new trade pact to help give a much-needed economic jolt. Although things have been going better economically as of late in the US, they were hoping the free trade pact would help improve things for US businesses as well. Looks like the US administration’s got some explainin’ to do.