Oct 24 - German and French accusations that the United States has run spying operations in their countries, including possibly bugging Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone, have overshadowed the start of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. Joanna Partridge reports.
Spying between friends is unacceptable. That's what Angela Merkel told President Obama in response to the German government's revelations that the United States might have monitored her phone. SOUNDBITE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying (German): "I said that to him in July when he was in Berlin and I said it to him again yesterday during a telephone call. This isn't predominantly about me, it's about all German citizens. We need to have faith in our allies and partners and this trust now has to be established once again. To this end, we need to ask what we need, which data security agreements we need, what transparency we need between the United States of America and Europe." Europe's reeling from the allegations, which came just before an EU leaders' summit. France is also accusing the U.S. of running a spying operation on its soil. The leaders were expected to tackle a range of social and economic issues at the summit. They've already been overshadowed by discussions about how to respond to Washington allegedly spying on two of its closest EU allies. Hollande has said he'll put the spying issue on the agenda. But it's not clear what the leaders can achieve. Domestic security isn't usually handled by the European Union. The best the 28 member states can do may be expressing their support for Paris and Berlin and calling for a full explanation from the U.S. It could also encourage the EU to give their backing to tougher data privacy rules, which are currently being drafted. A EU Commission spokeswoman called on EU leaders to support these rules. SOUNDBITE: MINA ANDREEVA, SPOKESWOMAN OF EU JUSTICE AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS COMMISSIONER VIVIANE REDING, SAYING (English): "Data protection must apply no matter if it concerns the e-mails of citizens or the mobile phone of Angela Merkel. Now is the time for action and not only declarations at the EU summit, because European leaders have the chance to show that now the data protection form can be adopted by Spring 2014." The extent of the U.S. National Security Agency's data-monitoring programme was first revealed by Edward Snowden's leaks. The U.S. now finds itself at odds with a range of important allies from Europe to Brazil and Saudi Arabia.