Monday

21st Jan 2019

Merkel rival demands halt of EU-US talks

  • Steinbrueck. According to Der Spiegel, the US is also spying on UN offices (Photo: SPD Pankow)

Peer Steinbrueck, a candidate to be Germany's next Chancellor, has demanded to halt EU-US trade negotiations amid revelations that Washington is spying on its European allies.

"I would interrupt the negotiations until the Americans say if German government offices and European institutions are bugged or wiretapped," Steinbrueck said on Sunday (24 August) in an interview with public broadcaster ARD.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He noted that the current government, run by Angela Merkel, is trying to cover up the scandal and that it makes no sense to negotiate on sensitive trade issues when the US can know at any point what the EU is discussing internally.

"We don't know if the Americans may be sitting under our desks with some technical devices," Steinbrueck said.

The Social-Democrat described the spying affair as detrimental to German companies which stand to lose their competitive advantage if the Americans are involved in "economic surveillance."

"Merkel is saying one thing about all this: Let's wait. I don't think a Chancellor should wait when civil liberties are at stake," Steinbrueck said.

Merkel has so far maintained she has no evidence the US violated German law and that her team is now negotiating a bilateral no-spying pact with America.

But Steinbrueck says the pact is lipservice to German concerns and will not prevent the US from carrying on with spying activities.

Meanwhile, documents leaked to Der Spiegel by Edward Snowden, the former US security contractor who has fled to Russia, reveal that US secret services also bugged the offices of the United Nations in New York, along with EU offices in the city.

Last summer, the National Security Agency (NSA) cracked the encryption of the videoconference system in the UN headquarters - an illegal activity since the US has signed an agreement with the UN not to carry out any spying on its premises, Der Spiegel reports.

The documents obtained by the German magazine also show that over 80 US embassies and consulates abroad, including the US consulate in Frankfurt, are involved in a spying programme called Special Collection Service, which is carried out without the host country knowing anything about it.

The existence of this programme has to be kept secret, according to the Snowden documents. Else it would "bring considerable damage to relations with the host country," Spiegel quotes from one document.

Merkel in tough spot over US spy scandal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her stance on the US spying affair, saying Washington needs more time to give all the answers and that she cannot force the US to change its laws.

German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Germany's domestic spy agency, the BfV, is to start monitoring the far-right AfD party in a move endorsed by the government, but decried as a witch-hunt by the party's leaders.

EU warns Romania over corruption amnesty

Juncker warned Romania's government not to move ahead with plans to grant amnesty for corruption, as more than 200 EU laws await decisions during Bucharest's presidency.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Salvini and Kaczynski - the new 'axis' powers?
  2. Seven member states miss climate plan deadline
  3. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  4. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  5. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  6. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  7. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  8. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us