Letta backs EU call on U.S. spying
'Shady zones unacceptable' says Italian PM25 October, 18:02
European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels agreed Friday to take strong joint action against electronic surveillance by the United States National Security Agency (NSA).
A widening US spy scandal reportedly involving European phone and email tapping by the NSA could jeopardize the cooperation necessary to gather intelligence, a vital element in fighting terrorism, EU leaders said in a joint statement at a summit in Brussels Friday.
The EU leaders also called for the US to develop a protocol with the US on surveillance to have in place by year-end.
"We have taken a strong, united position in order to get information over the next few weeks and clarification from the USA," Italian Premier Enrico Letta said.
"It is unacceptable that there are shady zones among allies," Letta said.
Reports this week said the NSA had listened to millions of phone calls in France, tapped Italian communications and government, and listened in on the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, prompted European leaders to make room for talks on data privacy and a response to US spying at the top of the agenda of the two-day summit.
Speaking after the end of the first day of talks Thursday, Merkel said Germany and France wanted to set up a framework with the US on surveillance.
Also on Thursday, Britain's Guardian newspaper said it had obtained a confidential document from the NSA suggesting that it had eavesdropped on phone calls of 35 world leaders.
Italian Premier Enrico Letta said Friday that he did not think the revelations of US intelligence whistle-blower Edward Snowden were constructive.
"I think that it is not useful and positive, on the contrary, it creates lots of problems and does not have the positive effects of transparency that it aims for," Letta said.
Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said Friday that it was no surprise to learn that allies have spied on each other.
"It is no shock to learn that friends spy on each other," Bonino said with a smile during a BBC interview.
Bonino denied that Italy had information indicating it has been spied on by the United States, contrary to press reports.
"I don't know what will emerge from other information," added Bonino.
The Italian foreign minister applauded decisions by EU leaders in Brussels on Friday.
"It is important that the 28 countries of the EU speak with one voice," said Bonino.
The US has said the NSA is not snooping on its allies, but has not clarified whether it has done so in the past.