Euro-MPs have backed Green demands for the immediate suspension of talks leading to a proposed new trade deal between the EU and the US after an investigation found ‘overwhelming evidence’ of a programme of mass surveillance of EU citizens by US security forces.
Members of the Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Programme (TTIP) should not be pursued – at least until the US agrees to change its law and halt all ‘data mining’ from phone and Internet use in the EU.
The investigation was set up by the Committee after whistleblower Edward Snowden lifted the lid on the US PRISM project, a mass electronic data surveillance program set up to monitor and record EU citizens’ telephone and Internet usage. The Committee condemned PRISM, which it said, ‘may entail a breach of EU ctizens’ fundamental rights’. It calls for an end to all mass surveillance, observing that privacy is not a luxury, but a fundamental right in a free and democratic society.
The Green Party has already warned that the proposed trade and investment agreement could threaten livelihoods in the South West. Greens are concerned that once in place the agreement will take precedence over national and European legislation and give corporations the power to take legal action against regulations that protect employment, the environment, or consumer standards.
Dr Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party’s lead European candidate in the South West said:
“I am relieved that Greens have prompted a halt to these potentially damaging talks. Perhaps we can use this breathing-space to form a clearer idea of what is being discussed in secret and manage to democratize the process. This will enable us to assess the threat to the South West from the potential relaxation on EU controls on such environmental threats as GM and neonicotinoid pesticides. Given the much lower standards of animal husbandry in the US we need to ensure that we are not flooded with poor-quality meat and milk which might threaten our farmers.”
European Commission perspective and background information on TTIP:
European Bans on Neonicotinoid Pesticides