Merkel and Hollande to lay foundation of ‘protected’ EU internet


German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday (16 February) she would talk to French President François Hollande about building a European communication network to avoid emails and other data passing through the United States. The Commission welcomed the idea, saying that it went in the same direction with its own efforts on data protection.

Merkel, who visits France on Wednesday, has been pushing for greater data protection in Europe following reports last year about mass surveillance in Germany and elsewhere by the US National Security Agency. Even Merkel's cell phone was reportedly monitored by American spies.

Merkel said in her weekly podcast that she disapproved of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection.

"We'll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection," Merkel said.

"Above all, we'll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic. Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe," Merkel said.

Germany has been pushing, so far in vain, for a 'no-spy' agreement with Washington.

Hollande's office confirmed that the governments had been discussing the matter and said Paris agreed with Berlin's proposals.

"Now that the German government is formed, it is important that we take up the initiative together," an official said.

Asked if Merkel’s idea clashed with Digital Agenda Commissioner Nellie Kroes's position that no government control should be imposed on the internet, her spokesperson Ryan Heath said he saw no contradiction.

He said that the EU executive supported Merkel’s call for better network security.

“These issues affect all Europeans and therefore require Europeans solutions”, Heath said. He added that the Commissioner had made proposals in the same direction, which include a European cloud space, a data protection reform package, and a revised telecom single market regulation.

“We look forward to the discussions on Wednesday and we do hope that they lead to an acceleration of those proposals we’ve already made in this field”, Heath said.

The spokesperson also said that Merkel did not propose “a European internet” distinct from the worldwide web, but was looking for an option in which Europeans could use an option in which their data would be stored inside the EU and would not leave Europe. He added however that more details were likely to become available after the discussions in Paris, which will also involve “leading industrials”. 

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an european's picture

" building a European communication network to avoid emails and other data passing through the United States."

A very good idea but then

"Germany has been pushing, so far in vain, for a 'no-spy' agreement with Washington."

May that still be necessary?

The most important actually ,than building a kind of Email firewall , is still the abolishement of the damn Roaming trough the European Union !

David Smith's picture

Cue the "Great (Fire)Wall of Schengen"!...

The average politician has never really understood the "Internet", indeed had they ever they would likely have put a stop to it at birth, like China and N.Korea have, opting in effect for country-wide "Intranets" instead.

The solution is not to erect pan-European firewalls but to educate the population not to put so much sensitive, personal, confidential data on the internet in the first place, and if they do then to understand the risks involved, encrypting were necessary.

David Smith's picture

PS, just to make 100% clear (and perhaps EurActiv's sys-Admin can explain why the server strip out standard HTML mark-up from reader comments) I hope everyone picked up that I said INTRANET and not internet above? So more simple and easier on readers if we could simply apply < i > italics < / i >...

an european's picture

David Smith - Posted on : 18/02/2014
Agree with you but it's not about european citizens discipline here but at least to protect against another NSA behavior.

an european's picture

I'm sure if Merkel and Hollande agrees then Europe has the ability to build a Narus or D-Wave like Quantum machines to act against spying and intercept block the spy traffic (if europe hasn't begun yet!)