Ahead of the EU summit in Brussels, Germany’s Angel Merkel and France’s Francois Hollande have discussed wiretapping of their communications by America’s NSA. The scandal could push a frustrated EU to change data privacy rules.
The EU summit starting Thursday is expected to be hijacked by recent revelations provided by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which infuriated both Berlin and Paris.
On the same day the summit kicks off, Germany announced it had information that allied US National Security Service had monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal phone. Earlier, France learnt from reports in Le Monde that the NSA has been recording dozens of millions of phone calls, including those of the French authorities.
The fallout from the revelations was prompt and direct. Merkel, on arriving for a two-day EU summit in Brussels, said that such conduct between friends was unacceptable. “Spying between friends – that’s just not done,” she said as quoted by the Associated Press.
“I said that to US President Barack Obama when he came to Berlin and again on the phone (Wednesday),” Merkel said. She added that trust between Washington and its partners has to be restored following the allegations.
“We need trust between partners and such trust needs to be re-established,” Merkel said. Earlier, the German chancellor made a phone call to US President Barack Obama to sort out if her phone was tapped, while Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned the US ambassador to explain the situation.
In a strongly-worded statement issued Wednesday, Merkel’s spokesman shared some details of the phone call with Obama. “She made clear that she views such practices, if proven true, as completely unacceptable and condemns them unequivocally,” the spokesman said.
Washington, which has been left at loggerheads with many of its allies due to Snowden’s revelations, deployed White House spokesman Jan Carney, who said that President Obama had done his best to reassure the German Chancellor, telling Merkel that the US “is not monitoring and will not monitor” her communications.