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EU votes to suspend deal with US over spying scandal

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Members of the European Parliament (EP) have voted to suspend a security agreement with the United States, amid growing concerns over US spying activities against Europe.

“The EU should suspend its Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) agreement with the US in response to the US National Security Agency’s alleged tapping of EU citizens’ bank data held by the Belgian company SWIFT,” read a resolution passed by the EP on Wednesday by 280 votes to 254 and 30 abstentions.

While the resolution is non-binding, the EP stressed that it “will take account of the European Commission’s response to this demand when considering whether to give its consent to future international agreements.”

In 2010, the European Union and the United States agreed on the TFTP, which allowed the US limited access to the global financial database SWIFT as part of an anti-terrorism campaign.

The Wednesday vote came, however, after revelations by former American intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that the United States was using the access to spy on Europe instead of using it for counterterrorism purposes.

The European lawmakers also called on EU member states to launch an investigation into the reports on the US espionage involving SWIFT.

Revelations of massive spying operations by the United States have triggered condemnations across Europe and Latin America.

In a latest revelation, Snowden said Washington has spied on the phone conversations of German chancellor Angela Merkel. The disclosure prompted the German chancellor to call US President Barack Obama to seek reassurance that her phone calls were no more targeted by US spying.

On October 21, French newspaper Le Monde disclosed massive surveillance by the US on French citizens and diplomats. The news angered French President Francois Hollande, who expressed “extreme reprobation” for the reported collection by the US of 70 million digital communications between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013.

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