Friday

20th Oct 2017

Barroso: Up to member states to clarify WikiLeaks revelations

  • Mr Barroso conceded a similar leak could take place in the EU (Photo: European Commission)

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said it is not the task of his institution to explain revelations contained in US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, insisting that EU member states are better positioned for the role.

MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday (14 December) repeatedly asked Mr Barroso to outline his position on the diplomatic cables and the legal action currently being taken against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who was granted bail on the same day, but the Portuguese politician fended off questions saying the issue was outside the commission's domain.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"All the leaks have really related to member states," said Mr Barroso. "It's up to them to carry out clarifications."

Several senior EU officials have been mentioned in the classified cables, providing an interesting insight into their private views, working methods and how they are seen by Washington.

One cable describes EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger as a 'lame duck' politician, sent to Brussels by German Chancellor Angela Merkel simply to get rid of him.

Another shows co-operation between EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard and the US in order to garner global support for the controversial Copenhagen climate accord brokered in December 2009.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy is said to have expressed his relief at not attending the fateful meeting in Denmark. "Had I been there, my presidency would have been over before it began," he is reported to have told the US ambassador to Belgium.

In another released conversation, former external relations commissioner Chris Patten explained why the EU will never be a "real power." A cable from Russia says Prime Minister Putin saw Mr Barroso as "a glorified international civil servant not worthy to be in the Czar's [presence]."

Despite the clear references to Brussels, Mr Barroso insisted it is not a commission issue: "It's something that happened in the US ... and we have to be clear what are our competences."

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton took a similar line during a press conference on Monday. Asked if she or EU foreign ministers had discussed WikiLeaks or if she feared revelations about her self, she said "No we didn't and I don't care," AFP reported.

Julian Assange

Mr Barroso was equally tight-lipped on the current legal battle surrounding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. "Obviously there is a presumption of innocence until the courts find otherwise," he told MEPs.

Mr Assange, who is fighting extradition to Sweden in a sex-crimes investigation, was granted bail by a British court on Tuesday, with the judge insisting he must abide by strict bail conditions.

The 39-year-old Australian has been held in a London prison for a week after surrendering to Scotland Yard for questioning after Sweden issued an arrest warrant.

Two women in Sweden have accused him of sexual misconduct in separate encounters, but Mr Assange denies the accusations, saying the incidents relate to "consensual but unprotected sex."

Some Assange supporters suspect the extradition request has been motivated by WikiLeaks' decision last month to begin publishing its store of 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables, something Swedish officials strongly deny.

Italian Liberal MEP Sonia Alfano was among those raising doubts on Tuesday. "The only thing he did was to show certain murky areas that important powers are not comfortable with," she said.

At the same time, Mr Barroso did concede that a similar release of sensitive documents could happen in the EU. "What happened in the US we can't help thinking could happen in any system," he said. "Its true that in the US system hundreds of thousands of people seem to have access to information," he added.

A self-funded group of former EU officials, journalists and and NGO workers based in Belgium has recently set up an EU version of WikiLeaks to facilitate the spread of EU documents to civil society.

The secure system currently used by EU diplomats to exchange information, Coreu, has "better safeguards" than the US however, one EU diplomatic source said.

EU seeks to shut down sea route from Libya

EU leaders are aiming to reach a consensus on the Dublin asylum reforms by early next year, announced European Council chief Donald Tusk. But first, they want to shut down the Central Mediterranean route from Libya.

EU Parliament: EU migrant quotas do have a future

The EU Parliament's lead negotiator on the Dublin rule, a key asylum regulation that has sparked a political clash among EU states, is now demanding for an automatic and permanent relocation scheme.

EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans

EU capitals voice support for more summits, tackling divisive issues and sometimes deciding by majority - not consensus - as outlined in the European Council president's plan.

EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans

EU capitals voice support for more summits, tackling divisive issues and sometimes deciding by majority - not consensus - as outlined in the European Council president's plan.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch PM: Brexit is 'still a bad idea'
  2. Commission to issue proposal on civil protection
  3. Tusk: 'No space' for EU intervention in Catalonia
  4. Austrian PM calls Brexit talks speed 'big disappointment'
  5. PM Muscat: journalist murder 'left a mark' on Malta
  6. Belgian PM: No crisis with Spain over Catalan remarks
  7. Ireland PM: Further Brexit concessions needed from UK
  8. Merkel: rule of law in Turkey going 'in wrong direction'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  3. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  7. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  8. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  9. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  10. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  11. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness

Latest News

  1. EU seeks to shut down sea route from Libya
  2. Digital debate will be first test of Tusk's new policy crowbar
  3. EU Parliament: EU migrant quotas do have a future
  4. EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans
  5. Commission employs double standards in Spain
  6. Legal study sounds alarm on 'Baysanto' merger
  7. Health MEPs want to phase out glyphosate by 2020
  8. Tusk: EU migrant quotas have 'no future'