This article over at Rue89 (French language) shows the degree to which America’s emphasis on information mining as a counter-terrorism tool is more than just a domestic issue. In return for a more favorable visa waiver program, the Czech Republic has signed a Memorandum of Understanding that offers American authorities access to far more passenger information than the EU is comfortable with. Significantly, the Czechs went ahead and signed the agreement in the face of pressure from the EU to wait for the articulation of a common European position. Said Ivan Langer, the Czech Interior Minister, “A man whose belly is full doesn’t listen to a man who’s hungry.” And vice versa.
The agreement provoked a quick response from the EU council of interior ministers, who expressed the urgency of finding a common EU approach to the issue before an U.S.-EU ministerial meeting March 13. But Langer warned that any such agreement should leave enough leeway for member states to negotiate bi-lateral agreements. More evidence of the kind of “divide and conquer” advantage the U.S. continues to enjoy in its dealings with the EU, especially with regard to recent EU countries from Eastern Europe.