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Vilnius, 5 July 2013
President Barroso's remarks on recent developments in transatlantic relations during a visit of the European Commission in Vilnius at the start of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council on 5 July 2013
At a joint press conference with the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, President Barroso gave the following answers to questions of journalists:
"I can confirm this (N.B. that Member States in the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Council have just agreed that on Monday 8th July the EU-US working group on data protection and privacy will take up its work).
The European Union will be represented at this meeting by the Commission, the Presidency of the Council and the External Action Service. The meeting will be on the European Union side chaired by the Commission and the Presidency, and this meeting will look for clarifications on issues like data protection and privacy rights of European Union citizens, falling within the competence of the European Union, and it will also address other issues, namely how to proceed further in this process of dialogue with the United States. So as you remember, already in Berlin the other day (3 July), I have announced that we have decided on the European side to keep the date for the launch of the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. So it will be on the 8th of July.
In parallel, our American partners have agreed that these issues that are of serious concern, as you know, relating to some intelligence activities will also be the subject of consultations. And so this has now been agreed by the Member States, it's going to be a process, a process that I hope will bring some clarification that is very important to build and to enforce the confidence that is necessary also to pursue very ambitious agreements that we hope to conclude with the United States namely, in the field of trade and investment, having in mind that this is an interest of both sides. Trade and investment partnership is clearly an interest of the European Union, but it is also an interest of the United States.
Intelligence matters, those that are a matter of national security, not competence of the European Union, will be discussed by the Member States with the United States. Certainly. Because this is national security competence and some of these matters are not the competence of the European Union. Having said this, there are also matters that are competence of the European Union, in fact even before the latest news, or reports concerning intelligence activities we have been already discussing with the United States in terms of data protection and privacy rights of European Union citizens. And that's why there should be different formats looking at the matters according, of course, to the competencies. What is the competence of the European Union, and what is the competence of our Member States. The compromise found between the governments of the European Union, in the COREPER, will allows us now to proceed and to discuss these matters so that we cannot, let's say, delay, that we will not delay, the very important negotiations also in terms of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. "
Watch the video of the questions and answers session: