Near daily scandals surrounding the NSA surveillance of EU nations’ citizens and leadership are expected to have a long trail of diplomatic consequences, but the first major one may be efforts to negotiate a US-EU free trade agreement (FTA), a scheme that was expected to be finished by the end of 2014.
That may or may not happen, however, with the growing outrage leading many across Europe, particularly in Germany, to scrap the talks until the Obama Administration made some assurances about the end of surveillance targeting the EU.
While German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted the deal was too important to let America’s systematic violation of Europeans’ privacy get in the way, it has a lot of advocates in her own party, as well as the president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, who says he supports the FTA in the long run, but says the talks need to be put on hold for the time being to at least assure that the NSA isn’t spying on the people trying to negotiate the treaty.
The FTA talks were largely supported by major EU business interests, but concerns about the NSA’s engaging in industrial espionage seem to be changing a lot of minds, with many of the belief that the FTA’s value to the US allows it to be used as leverage to get some concessions on the NSA, in a way that the administration probably won’t do after the deal is complete.
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