Europe had in his hand a major bargaining chip to pressure the United States due to the spying scandal.
Despite the economic weakness of the EU economy, the great trade agreement to be discussed on Monday in Washington seems to still benefits the U.S. more than the EU, according to an independent study prepared for the European Commission. But the EU has chosen to ignore their own common force and focus on what they supposedly do best: dialogue.
Despite its supposed combative spirit when it came to holding the US accountable for the spying, France went as far as suggest that there should be a delay in trade talks, but then supported the measure to ground Evo Morales’ plain — at the request of the Americans — because of the suspicion that Edward Snowden was on the plane. What happened puts the EU in an awkward position, as it becomes clearer that the United States government is able to control the complete European block making it respond to US interests before anything else
Public discourse aside, in private, no one in the diplomatic bodies that were spied on by the US has shown any discomfort due to the electronic surveillance in their own offices. There has not been any anger over the episode and most politicians and diplomats are more concentrated on the trade negotiations that they believe may help Europe overcome unemployment and lack of growth.
The clearest sign that the EU does not intend to rebuke the American big brother machinery came on Monday, just two days after it was made public that the U.S. had planted bugs in various offices where EU diplomatic missions worked. The Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Justice, Viviane Reding, who had previously asked for explanations regarding the spying, seemed unconcerned about the issue. In addition, Brussels had already walked away from Reding’s proposal to delay the trade negotiations with the U.S..
The EU executive adopted an almost laughable position: focusing on “checking the veracity of the information” released by the German weekly Der Spiegel, while U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed the veracity of the information in various speeches.
Even the European Parliament, the most assertive in these matters, claimed it would be suitable to paralyze trade talks. In a resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority (483 votes in favor and 98 against), the Parliament announced the opening of an investigation into the spying of European institutions and governments, which is expected to be ready later this year.
Meanwhile, Brussels has chosen to accelerate the remaining commercial tasks. And so on Monday Washington will be the center of EU-US relations, with delegations holding three parallel meetings. The first is the one to begin discussions on free trade.
In the second, Brussels will attempt to threaten Washington’s request to share data on passengers and banking transactions linked to terrorist financing, two of the tools that the US claims are essential for combating terrorism. The third meeting will dwell on the analysis of the American-led espionage on European citizens.
Diplomatic sources indicate that no one should expect great results from the third meeting, as the EU and especially countries like France and the UK, with powerful intelligence services, believe that these matters should be dealt with between Governments.