A lot of hyperventilation over very little: every state worth its salt collects intelligence on enemies, and allies. EU countries could start pointing fingers at the US, if they did not do the same, although on a smaller scale. The day we stop sharing intelligence, we leave the door open to the really unfriendly ones – has anybody noticed how the same newspapers which foam at the mouth over US and UK spying, have gone all quiet over Chinese spying and hacking? And where is the Russian Manning or Snowden? Probably dead or in Siberia, under lock and key – but it doesn’t mean that the Russians don’t collect extensive intelligence. I am not saying that it’s right to spy and certainly not on such a scale – but we will be able to get rid of spies and surveillance the day we live in a safe world, without terrorism and aggression – don’t hold your breath while waiting.
If we, as EU, don’t want the US to do our spying and looking after our defence, we have to set up our own foreign and defence policies. Where is our foreign policy? Is Catherine Ashton tasked to set up a foreign policy – and even remotely competent to do it? Do we have, in fact, anything in the form of an army, aviation, navy which we could call EU? Until we give ourselves the means to have an independent foreign and defence policies, we will depend on the current occupant of the White House, be it G.W. Bush who makes crucial decisions after speaking to God or Obama, pummelled by crises at home created by his predecessor and two wars inherited from his predecessor. So, do we want Bush, Obama or tomorrow a Palin or Bachmann telling us what to do and think, or do we want to make up our own mind, based on a common EU interest?
As much as we may dislike being spied on – in our private and public lives, can we be surprised that allies keep an eye on some of our more “colourful” (read: unreliable) leaders? It was actually good to read US diplomatic documents released by wikileaks on Berlusconi, showing that they were not taken in by his braggadocio and had a balanced assessment of his behaviour. There are significant extremist movements all over Europe, populist but also openly fascist or neonazi (just to mention Jobbik, Golden Dawn, etc) – it pays to keep an eye on them, as we’ve been caught with our pants down before. Europe has sizeable ethnic minorities which, while mostly peaceful, have extremists in their midst, looking to cause trouble in Europe, but also in the USA or anywhere else – not keeping an eye on them would be simply irresponsible. That’s why nobody in Europe (and around the world, for that matter) can actually cast the first stone, when it comes to surveillance and spying, whether on its own citizens or abroad.