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EU Leaders Say Distrust Over U.S. Spying Could Harm Cooperation

  • RFE/RL

European Union leaders pose for a photo during the Brussels summit on October 24.

European Union leaders pose for a photo during the Brussels summit on October 24.

EU leaders have ended a summit in Brussels dominated by concerns over allegations of U.S. spying on member states.

The 28 leaders of the bloc issued a statement warning that a lack of trust could harm the fight against terror by prejudicing intelligence-gathering cooperation.

The statement comes as France and Germany push for talks with Washington to find a new "understanding" by the year's end regarding U.S. intelligence activities after revelations U.S. intelligence agencies may have monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone as well as millions of French phone calls.

Earlier on October 25, Merkel told reporters: "I think the most important thing is to find a basis for the future on which we can operate and as I said today trust needs to be rebuilt, which implies that trust has been severely shaken, and the members of the European Union shared those concerns today."

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he will call in the U.S. ambassador to Madrid to explain reports of American spying on his country. He said that Spain has no immediate evidence of spying but wants to “get information”.

Separately, the European Union restated its desire to sign an association and free trade deal with Ukraine at a meeting in Vilnius November 28-29.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: "We hope to take important, even historical steps in particular with Ukraine, provided there is determined action and tangible progress.... We are also ready to initiate similar agreements with Moldova and with Georgia, which could then be signed next autumn, next year."

The EU has set a number of conditions for the rapprochement with Ukraine, including that Kyiv address the issue of political prisoners like opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko was jailed in 2011 on charges of abuse of office widely seen as politically motivated.

The two-day summit in Brussels also tackled the issue of immigration amid a growing number of deaths of refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa