Destinations Magazine

Swords and Shields

By Stizzard
Swords and shields

NAIVETY and paranoia mark the European Union’s attitude to espionage. The EU does not have a spy agency, nor does it have access to the intelligence collected by its members and their allies. That has advantages: EU decision-makers need not worry about keeping secrets (because they do not know any); nor must they grapple with the legal and political practicalities of intelligence oversight—such as what access spooks have to private data. The downside is that they do not see the benefits of espionage, and have a lurid fear (mixed perhaps with envy) of what spy services, particularly American ones, get up to.

Yet it is the European Parliament which votes on data-protection rules, the European Commission which negotiates agreements with other countries, and the judges of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) who have the final say on whether those deals meet the right standards. And in October 2015 the ECJ, on the advice of the Commission and to the applause of many parliamentarians, upended the “Safe Harbour” agreement which for the past 15 years had allowed foreign companies to store Europeans’ personal data on American computers.

The Economist: Europe

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