German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a news conference at the end of the first day of the European head of states summit in Brussels, Belgium, 24 October. European Union leaders have tasked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande to clarify with the United States claims about widespread spying practices: photo - EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET
"If it's true that top government officials from various countries [have been under surveillance] it would be a global scandal," Minister Michal Boni said in Brussels, as a spying row between the US and Germany overshadows talks on Ukraine signing an associate agreement with the 28-nation bloc in November and migration to the EU.
The UK's Guardian newspaper reported documents leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show that the United State's National Security agency (NSA) had been monitoring the calls of leaders from 35 nations, including German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel responded that "it has become clear that something must change in the future" and that once trust has been compromised, cooperation on intelligence becomes more difficult.
President Obama has reportedly said that Merkel's mobile phone is not being monitored now nor in the future, though he refused to say whether her mobile had been under monitored in the past.
Asked if conservations between Angela Merkel and Poland's prime minister Donald Tusk had been eavesdropped, Minister Boni said: "I don't know whether the Chancellor has called the Prime Minister from a mobile phone. As far as I know, these conversations always take place in a way where security can be assured".
On Friday, EU leaders will discuss migration to the EU at the monthly summit, in the wake of the deaths of hundreds drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.
Leaders will also be discussing Ukraine’s bid to sign an associate agreement with the EU at a summit in Vilnius next months.
Poland's foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski has said the time for discussion over whether former prime minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, would be released from jail, where she is serving a seven year sentence for "abuse of power", "is over".
"Time for bluffing is over on both sides. Its the time for action now," Sikorski said.
The dispute over Tymoshenko's fate has become a sticking point to Ukraine signing trade and other deals with Brussels.
Minister Sikorski added that a deal on Tymoshenko's case has to be reached by 18 November, when EU foreign ministers will discuss Ukraine at a pre-Vilnius summit meeting. (pg)