Saturday

24th Jun 2017

Merkel and Obama bury hatchet on US spying

  • Anti-NSA protest in Berlin: Merkel has given up on a no-spy agreement with the US (Photo: aktion-freiheitstattangst.org)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama on Friday (2 May) are poised to mend ties after the exposure of her phone being tapped and millions of Germans spied upon by the National Security Agency (NSA).

It is the first visit to Washington for Merkel since the NSA news broke last year.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Back then, Merkel was outraged and said this was a "breach of trust" among friends.

But the criticism has since faded. According to senior German officials, Merkel has accepted that there will be no "no-spying agreement" with the US, because the American side is unwilling to sign up to such a deal.

"We are not expecting any substantial progress after this visit in translating the goals the Chancellor is seeking," the official said.

Rather than seeking a bilateral deal, Germany is now eyeing an international effort at EU and UN level. "This is an tough nut to crack over the next years," another German official said.

On the other hand, efforts by the German Greens to bring NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to Germany for hearings are being put on ice by Merkel's government.

In a letter to members of a parliamentary committee obtained by Sueddeutsche Zeitung, government officials say a personal invitation for the US whistleblower would "run counter to the political interests of Germany", and "put a grave and permanent strain" on US-German relations.

The letter was sent just a few days before Merkel's visit to Washington, which to the Greens' is an indication that the only goal is for "Obama not to be upset" and that the Chancellor shows "cowardice towards friends."

But Merkel's concessions are not unilateral.

In a report released just hours before her visit, reviewing intelligence activities including the bugging of Merkel's phone, the White House is pledging to extend data privacy protections to non-US citizens.

The report on "Big Data and Privacy" makes six recommendations, most of which rely on Congress to pass additional legislation or review existing guidelines.

But in conference call with reporters the author of the report, John Podesta, said that work to apply the 1974 Privacy Act to non-US persons would begin immediately and could be completed within six to 12 months, British daily The Guardian reports.

Merkel's visit to Washington coincides with the visit of European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, who has no meetings with Obama, but will meet the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit