The mass surveillance scandal and recent press reports on the tapping of European politicians' mobile phones are to be discussed with US authorities, by a civil liberties committee delegation to Washington from 28 to 30 October. “We will have the opportunity to discuss directly with US counterparts the alleged surveillance activities of US authorities and any impact they have in terms of EU citizens fundamental right to privacy," said Claude Moraes, who is the head of the delegation.
Earlier this year the EP launched an inquiry into the NSA surveillance scandal and how it affects people in Europe.
"A key priority for this inquiry is to gather all relevant information and evidence from US sources, which is why this fact-finding delegation to Washington is so important," said Mr Moraes. The British member of the S&D, who is leading the inquiry, will meet Congress members, lawyers, academics and representatives of civil society during his visit to Washington DC. Also on the agenda will be the reform of EU data protection laws and the possible suspension of the SWIFT agreement, which the Parliament called for during the last plenay. The SWIFT agreement is about the exchange of bank data between the EU and the US to help fight terrorism.
EU-US free trade talks: opportunity or hindrance for data protection?
The EU and the US are currently negotiating a free trade agreement, which could help to stimulate business and create jobs. Elmar Brok, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, stressed the stakes ahead of a visit by his committee to New York and Washington DC this week. “The negotiations are of crucial economic and political importance for the USA and the EU in the new global order," the German member of the EPP group said. "This is why the USA should, for example, stop blocking the stagnating negotiations on an EU/US framework agreement for data protection and facilitate an agreement." Mr Brok also added: “The rights of EU citizens should not be treated as of lower importance than those of US citizens."
On Wednesday, both committees are invited to the White House to exchange views with Karen Donfried, the National Security Council's senior director for European affairs.
The delegation from the foreign affairs committee will then take part in the UN general assembly in New York.