The EU’s drive to get all 27 member states included on the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) has run up against a wall. The view of multiple sources closely monitoring the dossier is that the US Congress will have to pass new legislation before Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania will have any chance of joining the other EU23. Though some on Capitol Hill are sympathetic to their cause, nothing is likely to happen until 2011 at the earliest. Even if Congress changes the rules to make it easier for the EU4 to enter, they still need to be invited to join by the US administration and there is little indication that the Obama administration is interested in expanding the programme.
On September 23, 2010, The European Institute hosted a luncheon meeting with Ambassador Philip Verveer, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy at the U.S. Department of State. With the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Plenipotentiary Meeting only weeks in the offing, Ambassador Verveer addressed prospects for a new international telecommunications regulatory regime and emphasized the importance of limiting governmental controls. Additional areas of particular priority for the United States were internet governance and cyber security, and he stressed the importance of U.S.-EU cooperation in the setting of international telecommunications standards. Ambassador Verveer expressed his support for the European Union’s ambitious new digital agenda, and spoke of the productive discussions he has had with officials from the European Commission’s Information Society and Media Directorate. A key mutual interest is the potential of cloud computing, which would make computing infrastructure and services available on a utility-like basis.
In the next war, will the front line be “on line?” This question was the subject of a recent broadcast by “60 Minutes,” the premier news program on U.S. television, which asked: “Will the next war begin not with a bang, but with a blackout?”
On June 30, 2010, The European Institute held a meeting with leading members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, key officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Congress, and select experts to discuss the prospects for the Passenger Name Record Agreement (PNR), which is currently under review by the European Parliament. Having already flexed its post-Lisbon Treaty muscle on SWIFT, the European Parliament is giving very careful consideration to PNR, out of concern that security requisites not trump the fundamental privacy, data protection and freedom of movement rights assured the European Union’s 500 million citizens. While participants were optimistic about prospects for continued transatlantic cooperation and mutual respect, several committee members expressed concern that U.S. policy still reflects a disproportionate response to the terrorist concerns of the last decade. While no final decision by the Parliament is expected until this fall at the earliest, participants agreed that sustained discussion is vital if both sides hope to reach a fair agreement that takes both civil security and core privacy considerations into account.
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