The EU and the US need to find ways to restore their mutual trust so as to enable them to build a joint economic area under the Transatlantic Partnership agreement (TTIP), said Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee chair Elmar Brok (EPP, DE), opening Tuesday’s debate with the US Senate’s European Affairs Sub-Committee chair Chris Murphy and House of Representatives members Mario Diaz-Balart and Gregory Meeks.
“We have crossed a line in the way we have conducted espionage”, said Senator Murphy, pointing out that revelations of mass electronic surveillance came as a shock not only to Europeans but to Americans too. He stressed that “substantial changes” in US legislation were needed and were being debated, citing safeguards on the collection of metadata and surveillance procedures.
“We can tell you with some confidence that there are going to be changes”, and not just “window dressing”, he told MEPs, adding that there was no need to suspend current agreements with the US or to halt ongoing negotiations.
He reassured MEPs that the US Congress remains committed to its relationship with the EU and to to improving it to rebuild confidence.
Some MEPs harshly condemned the “disproportionate” character of US surveillance measures against EU citizens, calling for the suspension of trade talks and the data exchange agreement with the US. Others, however, countered that suspending agreements or halting negotiations just to send a message to the US would be “irresponsible”.