The Germans, in particular, are very, very unhappy to learn that the NSA is doing on a global scale what the Stasi did for decades in East Germany. And Angela Merkel, the former East German, is desperately hoping that ignoring the scandal will make it go away prior to the upcoming elections:
Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, likened the NSA to the Soviet-era KGB and indirectly suggested a delay in the talks. Greens in the European parliament, as well as in France and Germany, called for the conference to be postponed pending an investigation of the allegations. They also called for the freezing of other data-sharing deals between the EU and the US, on air transport passengers and banking transactions, for example, and called for the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, to be granted political asylum in Europe. French Greens asked Hollande to grant Snowden asylum in France.
Schulz said: “I feel treated as a European and a representative of a European institution like the representative of the enemy. Is this the basis for a constructive relationship on the basis of mutual trust? I think no.”
“It is shocking that the United States take measures against their most important and nearest allies, comparable to measures taken in the past by the KGB, by the secret service of the Soviet Union.”
While the anger is broad and growing across Europe, it is particularly intense in Germany which, according to Snowden’s revelations, is by far the main target within the EU of the NSA’s Prism programme sweeping up metadata en masse, capturing and storing it.
Given the high sensitivity of data-privacy issues in Germany, the scandal could test Merkel and force her on to the offensive against the Americans as she seeks to win a third term in general elections 11 weeks away.
Those who are attempting to claim that the NSA spying is simply more of the same are failing to recognize that the US government has committed what it itself describes as “acts of war” against every nation in Europe as well as the American people. This is likely to have considerable ramifications that go well beyond the diplomatic, as it’s not impossible that the fallout will eventually result in China-like restrictions on the operations of American companies around the world.
Keep in mind that most Europeans are barely aware of the scandal yet, as they are paying closer attention to the economic turmoil in their countries and the upheaval in Egypt than to the Snowden affair. But absolutely none of those who are aware of the NSA spying think that it is no big deal.