France Wants U.S. Spying Allegations on European Summit Agenda

PARIS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) -

France is pushing to put allegations of spying by the United States against its European allies on the agenda of a summit of European leaders in Brussels on Thursday, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

Describing the allegations in Le Monde newspaper of mass surveillance of French citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency as “serious” and “shocking,” Ayrault said Europe needed to band together to negotiate with the United States.

“President Francois Hollande has asked that the topic be added to the summit agenda. It is not only a French question but a European one,” Ayrault told parliament on Tuesday. “We need to protect ourselves and must demand that new rules are put in place.”

Washington’s European allies have voiced mixed feelings about the reports of extensive spying by the NSA since details of the alleged programs began to surface in June.

It remains to be seen whether France’s EU partners will agree to a formal discussion of the allegations in light of the Le Monde report.

The paper said on Monday that the NSA recorded 70.3 million items of French telephone data between December 10, 2012, and January 8, 2013, and collected tens of thousands of French phone records.

The targets appeared to be individuals suspected of links to terrorism, but also others, the paper said.

President Obama discussed the allegations with Hollande by phone.

The October 24-25 summit is expected to focus on ways to foster the digital economy.

A copy of draft conclusions for the summit seen by Reuters does not mention U.S. surveillance or the European response to it.

The draft was dated October 21 and could still be modified.