Tuesday

17th Jan 2017

Telephone lines in EU Council building tapped

Telephone lines in the European Council building in Brussels have been tapped.

The serious breach of security was found in a routine security sweep some time ago, the spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said when speaking to journalists in Brussels on Wednesday.

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Apparently telephone lines leading to a number of national delegation rooms in the Justus Lipsius building were bugged.

It is the same building where heads of states and governments will be meeting tomorrow and Friday for the European Spring Council.

It has not been confirmed that five of the six countries involved are the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Austria. Italy is also believed to have been a victim.

Spokesperson Cristina Gallach described the incident as a serious security breach and said the countries targeted had already been fully informed.

There was no information available on how long the surveillance has been going on. "We are glad that it has been discovered", she said.

It is not known who is behind the espionage but the investigations are continuing. The Greek presidency condemned the act.

Greek foreign minister George Panpandreou said "Europe is a very transparent organisation, our documents can be found online and everybody knows our positions."

He added that "people who committed these acts should not have gone to such lengths."

In a nice little twist to the story, there was an electricity failure just as a journalist asked the Commission spokesperson about the rumours.

In the ensuing darkness, the spokesperson said it was the first time he had heard about the bugging scandal.

EU should raise own taxes, says report

A group chaired by former Italian PM and EU commissioner Mario Monti says Brexit should be used to create EU-level levies to depend less on member states contributions, and to abolish member states rebates in the EU budget.

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