Berlin shocked by Denmark-US spy deal

“It is particularly shocking that the Danish government apparently knew about the illegal actions of its intelligence service as early as 2015 without informing other governments in the EU,” S&D MEP Joachim Schuster of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the EU Parliament told EURACTIV. [Shutterstock/jgolby]

German politicians have reacted with shock to revelations that Denmark’s foreign intelligence unit partnered with US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on senior officials of neighbouring countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Among EU member states, such surveillance operations should be an absolute no-go,” Green MEP Hannah Neumann and member of the security and defence subcommittee told EURACTIV Germany.

“It is particularly shocking that the Danish government apparently knew about the illegal actions of its intelligence service as early as 2015 without informing other governments in the EU,” added MEP Joachim Schuster of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the EU Parliament.

“European partners, in particular, must be able to trust each other,” said Deputy Chairman of the FDP parliamentary group Stephan Thomae, adding that a “no-spy treaty” with the US and within the EU was needed to govern the actions of intelligence agencies. 

“The wiretapping of political actors [of partners] is part of the intelligence agencies’ daily business”, German CDU parliamentarian Roderich Kiesewetter told RND. The conservative MP called for pragmatism but added that German intelligence services do not conduct surveillance on allies. 

While Neumann called for the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) to add the issue to its agenda for 7 June and for it to condemn Denmark, Schuster suggested a discussion on the allegations was needed before agreeing on possible consequences, noting that “when in doubt, Europe must stand together.”

The revelations come at a time of thawing EU-US relations and may lead to calls for a binding no-spy pact with the US. 

“With an agreement that prevents espionage among member states, it would be easier to move closer to the US,” said Neumann, adding that the US had destroyed a lot of trust with the 2013 surveillance scandal. 

The scandal broke in the summer of 2013 as Germany was gearing up for national elections when it emerged that Merkel as well as her challenger Peer Steinbrück (SPD) had been targeted by US surveillance. (Nikolaus J. Kurmayer  | EURACTIV.de) 

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe