The revelations of broad NSA surveillance against EU governments and diplomats has been defended by the Obama Administration as a fairly minor deal. It could impact a fairly major deal – a $127 billion trade pact the US is preparing to negotiate with the EU.
With Germany and France both riled by the surveillance, EU officials say that the plan is now to try to conduct the trade talks in “parallel” with the investigation of the surveillance with the cooperation of a US “working group.”
The agreement will significantly complicate the negotiations, but from the EU perspective is virtually necessary to prevent the US from simply stonewalling on the probe until the EU scraps it outright.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the evidence so far points to the surveillance as an “extremely serious incident,” and that the use of nominally anti-terrorism intelligence assets to collect data on European diplomats is unacceptable.
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