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NEWS: Spying scandal challenges EU-Colombia FTA

The European Union-Colombia free trade agreement is scheduled to be signed on Tuesday May 18 in Madrid, Spain.

The agreement must then be approved by the European Parliament, a process which could take several years.

But Colombia Reports highlights that, “Members of the European Parliament’s Green Party called for the signing of the EU-Colombia free trade agreement to be put off until allegations that the Colombian security agency DAS wiretapped the parliament have been investigated…”

Photos (L-R): MEP Barbara Lochbihler, MEP Heidi Hautala, MEP Catherine Greze

“The appeal was made by members of the European Parliament (MEP) Barbara Lochbihler (of Germany) and Heidi Hautala (of Finland) – who is also the president of the Human Rights Commission for the European Parliament – who request that Colombian authorities explain the allegations.”

“The politicians also requested information on whether DAS possessed a list of which members of the EP support the Colombian government.”

Additionally, MEP Catherine Greze (of France) submitted a written question to the European Commission on April 27 that states, “(In April 2010), a series of documents stamped by the Colombian government were seized from the DAS… these documents specify that one DAS operational objective is ‘neutralizing influence in the European court system’, specifically naming the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights… Does the Commission intend to withhold signature of the Multiparty Agreement concluded with Colombia… until such time as it has been established where responsibility is in the case set out above?”

Is there cause for concern of similar wrongdoings in Canada by DAS?

Maybe not, we don’t know, but this is what happened in Canada.

The Globe and Mail reported on March 26 that a steak dinner and a night of dancing in Bogota last August “led to the free-trade agreement between Canada and Colombia that is now before Parliament.”

Liberal trade critic Scott Brison and his good friend Colombian trade minister Luis Plata did the “dining, dancing, (and) free-trade deal making,” according to Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail.

That said, Colombia Reports has also reported on April 21 that, “The possibility of smear campaigns against U.S. entities is also being investigated.”

The Colombia Reports article is at http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/9384-european-parliament-members-call-for-wiretap-investigation.html.

The Globe and Mail article is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/dinner-dancing-and-free-trade-deal-making/article1513908/.

Catherine Greze’s full question to the Commission is at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=P-2010-3078&format=XML&language=EN.

The Council of Canadians critique of the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement, please go to http://canadians.org/trade/issues/CCFTA/index.html.