The European Union is considering taking action against the U.S. for cyberspying on its leaders, including suspending two-way trade talks designed to create a market that represents half the world economy.
France's President Francois Hollande has been pressing fellow heads of state to make the spying issue part of the agenda of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels today. French EU Commissioner Michel Barnier told the BBC on Thursday, "Enough is enough."
"We can't simply return to business as usual," German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.
France and Germany called U.S. ambassadors into their government offices this week over news reports that the Obama administration tapped the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and accessed phone records of 70 million French citizens.
Barnier says confidence in the U.S. has been shaken and, as commissioner for internal market and services, he suggested Europe develop its own digital tools such as a "European data cloud " independent of American oversight.
Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, said Europe's undermined confidence in the USA meant it should suspend negotiations for a two-way free-trade agreement that would account for almost half of the global economy. The Americans, Schulz said, now must prove they can be trusted.
"If we go to the negotiations and we have the feeling those people with whom we negotiate know everything that we want to deal with in advance, how can we trust each other?" he said.
Ambassador John Emerson was asked Thursday to meet with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle after Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said the chancellor spoke Wednesday with President Obama about the spying reports.
In France, Ambassador Charles Rivkin was summoned to meet with French officials after the newspaper Le Monde reported that the National Security Agency program to sweep up phone transactions (but not listen to the conversations) collected records of French citizens.
A German parliamentary committee that oversees the country's intelligence service held a meeting Thursday to discuss the matter. Its head, Thomas Oppermann, said he was informed that German magazine Der Spiegel had documents on the alleged spying on Merkel and that the claim was found to be "plausible."
Der Spiegel has published stories based on material from NSA leaker Edward Snowden but did not reveal its sources for this latest story. Snowden has been granted safe haven for now in Moscow, which has refused to honor a request by the Obama administration to return him to the USA to face charges of espionage.
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