Europe to seek talks with U.S. over spying
The European Union, under a Franco-German initiative, would seek talks with the United States over its alleged spying by the end of this year, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said here in the early hours of Friday, Xinhua reported.
"All 28 EU member states agreed on the nature of the initiative," Van Rompuy said at the press conference after finishing the first day of a two-day summit.
"The UK has a special relationship [with the U.S.], but they are completely on board," Van Rompuy told reporters that Britain had agreed with the initiative.
France and Germany proposed during the summit to hold talks with the U.S. to seek an agreement or an understanding in the field of secret services following the spying scandal, while inviting all the other EU member states to join the initiative, Van Rompuy said.
Top leaders of EU member states expressed their conviction that the partnership must be based on respect and trust, including with respect to the work and cooperation of secret services, according to a statement adopted during the summit.
"A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field of intelligence gathering," said the statement.
On Thursday, Berlin summoned the U.S. ambassador over the allegations of spying on the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which was denied by the White House.
Merkel said upon arrival on Thursday afternoon that the U.S. conduct of bugging her phone was "unacceptable." She had called U.S. President Barack Obama on the eve of the summit, warning of the breach of trust
Earlier this week, French President Francois Hollande also asked for an explanation from Obama over the phone, following allegations of U.S. spying on millions of French phone calls.
The fresh round of spying scandals came only months after European media had reported about the U.S. national security agency' s bugging EU offices, based on the information leaked by Edward Snowden.
The U.S. spying partly dominated the summit, but EU leaders still managed to reach consensus on plans for the digital market as well as other social and economic issues.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the same press conference that Europe should be "cautiously optimistic" with a fragile economic recovery.