Ministerial meeting in Washington

Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States.

Meeting w Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States (May 2013)

Twice a year my colleague Viviane Reding and I meet our US-counterparts, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Acting Secretary for Homeland Security, Rand Beers (the new Minister has not yet been approved by Congress). Also in the delegation is the Presidency, at the moment the Ministers of Justice and Interior of Lithuania, and the Minister(s) of the next Presidency, which in this case is the Greek Minister of Justice.

It was a beautiful sunny autumn day in Washington and we talked about important areas of EU-US cooperation such as cybercrime, Syria, the fight against trafficking and sexual child abuse online, terrorism and data protection.  Our conversations were of course marked by the Snowden allegations, something that indeed has had a negative effect on the climate of cooperation with the US.

The anger and frustration that many of us Europeans are feeling about the alleged surveillance activities by the NSA, are feelings shared with many Americans. We had a long discussion about the reforms currently debated in Congress, something that Obama has expressed his support for. However, it is still not clear what implications these reforms will have for Europeans.  An important element in enhancing the confidence building in our relations would be to agree on a comprehensive data protection agreement. Our hope is that this framework, negotiated for several years now, can be presented next summer.

In connection to our meeting I also continued with consultations on the TFTP-agreement. I met with David Cohen, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, and later Caroline Atkinson, who is the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs.