Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Questions (50)

Brendan Smith

Question:

50. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the EU's External Action Service has reported to the EU Foreign Affairs Council on the clarification sought from the United States concerning their use of surveillance in European Union institutions and member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35664/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The allegations that have been made of United States surveillance in European Union institutions and member States are, if true, of obvious concern to all EU member States, including Ireland. The European Union, through its External Action Service, has sought clarification on these allegations in both Washington and Brussels. These issues were also discussed at a meeting of the EU-US working group on data protection and privacy rights which took place in Brussels on 8 July. The EU was represented at the meeting by the Commission, the Presidency of the Council and the External Action Service. A further meeting of this group is scheduled in the coming weeks. The Commission is expected to report on the findings of the group to the European Parliament and to the Council in due course.

While Ireland is not one of the member States identified in the media reports to date, the Government’s concerns have been conveyed bilaterally in contacts with the US Embassy in Dublin. We look forward to clarification being provided in response to the EU’s request.

Finally, I would like to emphasise that this country values greatly its relationship with the United States, both bilaterally and in the context of the European Union, and that we look forward to the continuation of this close and cooperative relationship in the period ahead.