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EU agrees on data protection talks with US

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Andriaus Vaitkevičiaus / 15min nuotr. / US flag
Šaltinis: BNS
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The European Union (EU) decided to open negotiations with the United States on data protection, which has made headlines following media reports about large-scale spying by the US government, the European Commission (EC) and the EU Council presidency of Lithuania said on Friday.

"There is a decision that on Monday working groups are starting to work in Washington," Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė told journalists in Vilnius.

EC President José Manuel Barroso has said the EU will be represented by the EC, as the EU's executive arm, the Lithuanian presidency and the European External Action Service.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Barroso said the issues of data protection and privacy rights would be raised during the talks. Intelligence-related national security issues, however, would remain the matter of member states, he emphasized.

"Having said this, there are also matters that are competence of the European Union. We have been discussing even before the latest news, reports concerning intelligence activities, we have been already discussing with the United States in terms of data protection and privacy rights of European Union citizens," Barroso.

The talks in Washington will come in response to a scandal that followed media reports on alleged online spying by the US administration as part of the PRISM program and alleged wiretapping at EU institutions.

In response to the reports, French leaders and some other politicians called for postponing EU-US free trade talks. It was later decided, however, that the talks will take place as planned, but experts from both sides will concurrently hold consultations on the sensitive issue of data protection.

Barroso stressed on Friday that free trade would be of benefit for both the EU and the US.

EU experts say a free trade agreement would add around EUR 119 billion to the EU economy and EUR 95 billion to the US economy.

BNS
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