As you will have noticed, European politicians have suddenly become rather interested in the revelations about NSA spying now that it seems that they, too, have been targeted. This led to a three-hour long debate in the European Parliament yesterday, which was striking for the number of speakers calling for the imminents TAFTA/TTIP trade negotiations to be postponed until after the US has responded to the allegations – and promised to behave better in the future.
Another interesting theme that emerged was using the current Data Protection Regulation as a way to increase protections for European citizens. That's really good news, because the Regulation was being hopeless watered down at the behest of lobbyists working for US companies; now there's a chance we might get something that protects our, not their, interests.
That's still under discussion, and is something that I will be returning to as things develop. But more urgently, there is a vote in the European Parliament today on a resolution essentially censuring the US for its activities. What's interesting is that it is a cross-party text, which shows the strength of feeling.
However, in addition to the main resolution, there are some amendments which are not universally supported. These essentially call for the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations to be frozen until the US gives suitable guarantees. Getting these amendments through would strengthen the EU's position greatly, so I would urge you to write to your MEP now – the vote is at 11 am UK time – asking them to support them. You can contact your MEP using WriteToThem. Here's what I've sent to mine:
As you know, there is a vote today on the resolution regarding the US National Security Agency surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens' privacy. I would like to urge you to support this, and in particular to vote for the amendments that would require the negotiations for the TTIP free trade agreement to be put on hold until the US has responded to allegations about its spying on European politicians, and given assurances that this will stop immediately.
That's necessary, otherwise the TTIP negotiations would be like a poker game in which your opponent can see your cards, but you can't see theirs. There is no way that a fair and balanced agreement could be drawn up, and it would be the height of irresponsibility to begin such negotiations while the US has this huge and underhand advantage.
If we don't start these talks on the right footing, European citizens will suffer, jobs will be lost and companies in the EU will be at a global disadvantage. I therefore urge you to support the resolution and the amendments.