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The European Union is threatening to halt data-swapping agreements that grant the United States access to European financial and travel data over spying reports, reported Reuters. In a letter, Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU’s home affairs commissioner, expressed European concerns over the implementation of the two agreements as the States failed to assure “full compliance with the law.”
Malmstrom said, “We are experiencing a delicate moment in our relations with the US; mutual trust and confidence have been seriously eroded and I expect the US to do all that it can to restore them.” Ties between the US and Europe have been shaky ever since Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), exposed that the US has been utilizing immense amounts of Internet and telephone data worldwide.
The fate of both the EU-US passenger name record (PNR) and the terrorist financial tracking programme (TFTP) agreements is yet to be decided as they are presently up for annual review. The July 8 meeting by a team from the European Commission with US officials in Washington served as a pre-scheduled evaluation to determine whether the terms of the agreements are being met.
Malmstrom’s spokesman, Michele Cercone, said the following in a press briefing in Brussels last Friday.
“Should we fail to demonstrate the benefits of the TFTP and of the PNR instruments for our citizens and the fact that they have been implemented in full compliance with the law, their credibility will be seriously affected and in such a case we will be obliged to reconsider if their conditions for implementation are still met.”
According to the European Parliament News, the European Parliament recently voted to initiate an “in-depth inquiry” on all US surveillance programs like PRISM in order to study its effects on EU member states and present the results nearing the end of this year. This decision has been approved by 483 votes to 98 with 65 abstentions. Neighboring states, Germany in particular expresses its concern urging the federal government to “do everything to protect the people in Germany against access to their data by third parties.”
Due to the NSA snooping, France at first urged the EU to postpone the major US-EU trade agreement that was to be discussed this month; while, Germany was against postponement. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of European Commission said that the trade talks will occur as scheduled.
Talks on EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) started on June 17. If a deal is agreed upon, it would be the world’s largest Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to date. The European Union says an FTA will add around 119 billion euros ($154 billion) annually to the EU economy, and 95 billion euros ($123 billion) to the US economy, reported Global Post.
Image credit: Cecilia Malmstrom via Facebook