It may seem passing strange that an American such as myself (and on the anniversary of the very day we Americans celebrate as that on which was first declared the formal Independence of the United States of America, to boot!) might now find himself writing a commentary dealing with issues involving fundamental Rights and Liberties in Europe.
Certainly, it feels altogether odd to me!...
but the ever-expanding scope of the sensitive material provided to various and sundry journalists by self-proclaimed whistleblower Edward Snowden (he who had, at the start, revealed, in much detail, the existence of many programs within the United States' National Security Agency- most notably, PRISM [though there are others as well]- set up to mine data re: ordinary electronic communications of average, everyday persons in the name of "homeland security")- not to also mention the continuing failure of getting him into American custody!- now compels me to do just that.
Besides, writing about this on the Fourth of July (a date re: which we Americans always capitalize the word "fourth") isn't really all that strange, for it was the very document dated July 4, 1776 (that, of course, known as the American 'Declaration of Independence') which first proclaimed, among its "self-evident" "truths", that "all... are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" and, further, "[t]hat to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted... deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed".
Despite this Declaration being the very foundation (in essence, the "birth certificate") of that Nation-State we, American and non-American alike, know as the United States of America, no nationality is therein proclaimed as being the sole- or even principal- recipient of the benefits such "self-evident" "truths" might bring. For "their Creator" (despite subsequent claims by all too many an American, over time, that "God is on Our Side") does not seem to, Himself, have made any such distinction (always remember: the song's title is God Bless America... not 'God only blesses America' [in addition, the song title is a prayer, an appeal-- not a demand!]).
No, instead, "all" (emphasis, obviously, my own) are "created equal" (under Law) and, thereby, "endowed... with certain unalienable Rights", etc.
Before I go on, let me first address the controversy over the recent revelation (again, thanks to Edward Snowden) that the NSA was also leading the charge when it came to bugging the offices of European Union officials and, in order to so address this, I will have to be most brutally frank:
here's the "skinny"-- the European Union does nothing MAJOR without the United States of America at least "looking the other way", where the USA does not actually indicate its approval.
There are, I dare say, more than a few Europeans who are citizens of EU Member-States (and, thereby, also citizens of the European Union) who will not be at all much accepting of such a statement (while other EU'ers will simply shrug their shoulders and say "As if that's a surprise!")... many Americans will also not be all that happy with what I have written above in boldface (though, in many- if not most- cases, the Americans' disapproval will be for a quite different reason!).
But the fact remains that the USA has mentored (some might even be tempted to say "sponsored") what has, by now, become the European Union going all the way back to its earliest germination as the European Coal and Steel Community!
Of the now 28 Member-States of the European Union (Croatia having joined just the other day), 22 of them (that is: 78.5 percent of the EU) are also members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; put another way, EU Member-States make up 78.5 percent of NATO signatories (as NATO happens to now consist of 28 adherents to the North Atlantic Treaty)... not counting the United States and Canada, of course, only 4 of the NATO signatories in Europe (if we include Turkey in Europe) are not currently EU Member-States.
NATO is, for all practical purposes, the "3rd American 'Empire' " (the 1st American 'Empire' being the expansion of the United States of America across the breadth of the North American continent from Independence through the end of the Mexican War in 1848 [the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 being merely a modest reconfiguration of the Mexico-USA border that is, today, such a hotbed of political discourse over so-called 'Immigration Reform'] with the 2nd American 'Empire' being the acquisition of non-contiguous 'Possessions' beginning with the purchase of Russian America, now Alaska, in 1867 and culminating in the purchase of the Danish West Indies, now the US Virgin Islands, in 1917 just as the USA was about to step onto the stage as a 'World Power' upon entering World War I-- the position of the USA as a true 'World Power' would remain in something approaching "limbo" until after World War II; NATO was itself part and parcel of the process of coming out of said "limbo").
In general, Americans themselves don't much like being in possession of anything considered "Empire": liberal progressives tend to blanch at the obvious association of the term with Imperialism while conservatives and, especially, libertarians see the very notion of 'Empire' as being most antithetical to the basic concept of 'Republic' (besides "we're a Republic, not a Democracy", one is apt to also hear- from the lips of many a conservative and libertarian here in the USA- "I want to preserve the Republic before it descends into Empire": conservatives of a more religious [especially those with a more traditional, where not also evangelical, Christian] bent see 'Empire' as hearkening back to the Roman Empire under which Jesus of Nazareth himself was crucified and many an early Christian 'Father' martyred)...
well-- too late!
For the United States of America has always been an "Empire" (even where the term- as here- is best placed within quotation marks).
Besides the obvious- that the Federal Constitution which first took effect in March 1789 had been purposefully crafted as something of a "home brew" American version of that very British Empire from which the United States had, but a decade (give or take) before, so violently separated themselves- there is George Washington himself writing (after having toured the then-still "frontier" of northern and central New York State [much of which had been taken, by force, from the Iroquois Confederacy that had, for the most part, allied itself with the British during the American Revolution] while waiting, during the Summer of 1783, for the Continental Army [along with himself] to be formally discharged [the second Peace of Paris, which formally recognized an independent United States of America, had already been initialed but had not yet been formalized at the time]) on what he called "the vast inland navigation of these United States" in the course of which he declaimed that he shall not rest contented till I have explored the Western Country, and traversed those lines (or a great part of them) which have given bounds to a New Empire.
It is from these words that New York State (mistakenly considering Washington's "New Empire" as only referring to that which he had so recently visited) takes its nickname "the Empire State" but, for purposes of this piece, one has to well consider the import of the iconic Father of the American Republic himself here not seeming to much mind the very notion that "these United States" could, in fact, be a "New Empire"! For his own part, another of the 'Big Six' Founding Fathers- Thomas Jefferson- had, three years earlier, hoped to add to the Empire of liberty an extensive and fertile Country thereby converting dangerous Enemies into valuable friends (as President, Jefferson would get his chance to just about double the size of his "Empire" via the Louisiana Purchase [which, seen in this light, does not seem to be all that much of a departure from 'Jeffersonian' Republican principles as it otherwise might]-- also, well keep in mind that Jefferson was, after all, President Washington's first Secretary of State!).
But now back to the current (that is: "third") American "Empire" in Europe:
although more what I would call a "constellation" (a grouping of states or other political jurisdictions over which its 'metropole' has more influence than actual political authority) than Imperium (in which the metropole asserts more or less direct political [as well as military and economic] control), NATO is- indeed- the principal vehicle of this third American "Empire" and, while many a European may not much like this, the fact does remain that the EU (again, with more than 3/4 of its membership ensconced within NATO) is heavily influenced by this reality!
In this light, the spying that the USA does on the EU (as well as its Member-States) is simply part of the day-in/day-out "cat and mouse" game of allies spying on allies: the crudest, perhaps, element of the concept that has become most well known as "Trust, but Verify!"
I am not at all condoning any of this, mind you: I here simply present it as one of the more negative aspects of general, and overall, International Diplomacy... and it is not an aspect that is at all indicative of failing relations (that is: while it may well strain relations between allies [if only because of the embarrassment caused once it is made public (forcing the spied upon to react with more than due umbrage, in turn putting the one doing the spying on the defensive)], it does not necessarily signal an outright break). For instance, the State of Israel is notorious for spying on the United States of America (not even being above compromising American intelligence and military officials), yet Israel and the USA ever remain the closest allies as regards the Middle East (though, truth be told, they rather have to be [much like a brother who "stole" your girlfriend, he's still family! ;-)]).
But it is a far different matter when it comes to the USA adversely impacting upon the fundamental Rights and Liberties of ordinary, everyday non-Americans!
One former Director of America's National Security Agency can- as he did on a Sunday morning television talk show this past weekend- snidely pooh-pooh the efficacy of the inalienable Rights of non-Americans, Europeans in particular, with his noting that the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution (that which protects against Unreasonable Search and Seizure of "persons, houses, papers and effects") "is not an International Treaty"...
true enough (as, quite obviously, the American Federal Constitution does not- indeed, cannot- protect those not directly under the jurisdiction of the United States and/or its constituent States [or Territories or other Possessions])...
but this still does not at all address how the NSA's mining data related to (where not actually even monitoring) phone calls, e-mails, quick-texts and other electronic communications made by Europeans might still, somehow, be within both the letter and spirit of European Law which can protect citizens of the EU.
The earliest clear example of the judicial institutions on the supranational European level taking up the issue of fundamental Rights and Liberties was the case of Stauder v. City of Ulm [Case 29/69, ECR 419 (1969)] decided by the European Court of Justice and it was one that specifically addressed the Right of Privacy.
The Stauder case involved a European Commission decision which permitted the poorer citizens of the then-Member States of what was, back in the late 1960s, still called 'the European Community' to buy commodities, such as butter (the specific item involved in Stauder), at discounted prices. The issue presented for judicial determination in Stauder was whether or not a requirement that recipients of the cheaper butter had to identify themselves by name (which the European Commission decision seemingly allowed) violated the recipients' own Right of Privacy (under the Constitutional Law of the Federal Republic of [back then, still "West"] Germany of which Erich Stauder, the complainant, was a citizen, especially as there were other methods available through which the recipients could show themselves to be eligible [such as to be assigned a number- or other similar identifier- preserving anonymity, an identifier which could then be presented, in lieu of personal identification, when the butter was actually purchased]).
In a method of jurisprudence eerily reminiscent of that used by American Chief Justice John Marshall, back in 1803, in the famous landmark case of Marbury v. Madison (in which Marshall and his fellow Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court gave then-President Thomas Jefferson just what he wanted, but only through themselves claiming that which Jefferson himself denied they even had- that power known as 'Judicial Review'), the European Court of Justice came to the following conclusions in Stauder:
First, they opined the necessity for applying a "most liberal interpretation" of the very text of the European Commission's decision (on grounds that the text- as expressed in the several European languages in which it had been, of necessity, written- could be construed differently depending on which language was applied); second, in so applying such an interpretation, the Court found that- while the Commission itself had not at all prohibited a requirement that the recipients of cheaper butter identify themselves by name- it also had not specifically required that the recipients do so (thus leaving it up to each of the Member-States of the European Community to come up with methods [not necessarily requiring identification by name, however] through which only those eligible to receive butter at a discounted price could be determined)...
finally, the Court stated that- as a result of its interpretation of the European Commission decision above- the provision at issue contains nothing capable of prejudicing the fundamental human rights enshrined in the general principles of [European] Community law and protected by the Court.
It was this seemingly, on its face, innocuous statement through which the European Court of Justice now claimed direct oversight over any "prejudicing" of those "fundamental human rights enshrined in the general principles of Community law" by Member-States of the then-EC (which it could do under a provision of the treaty which set up the European Community in the first place, one which required that- in any decision by the supranational European judiciary- "the law [be] observed" [a provision which, by the way, would be carried over verbatim into the Maastricht Treaty which set up the European Union in 1993])...
yes, the Member-States of the European Community- later, European Union- could determine, on their own, the best methodology of identifying eligible recipients of discounted butter but they were now on notice that whatever method they might then use might, afterward, be subject to review by a European Court of Justice asserting its own obligations under the very foundational documents under which the EC cum EU had been created!
More to the point, one of those "fundamental human rights... protected by the Court" would, in fact, be a Right of Privacy.
Just a little over three decades after the Court's decision in Stauder, the European Union would- in fact- adopt a Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which includes, as its Chapter 2 (of 7), a chapter on 'FREEDOMS'. Article 8 within that Chapter specifically states (in its first clause) that [e]veryone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her and (in its second clause) that [s]uch data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law and, further, that [e]veryone has the right of access to data which has been collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.
Since the "law" of the EU (that which must be "observed" by its own supranational courts) includes a Right of Privacy (going back to Stauder), it is quite clear that the provisions of Article 8 of the Charter cited above must be interpreted in light of same.
It is, precisely, here that the "new can of worms" cited in the title of this piece gets "opened"!
Put most bluntly: the European Union seems to, if only for the time being, be better able to protect an individual's Right of Privacy than even the American Constitutions (plural here because one has to also consider the Constitutions of the several States of the American Union) themselves can.
Here in the United States, on the other hand, we are still arguing over whether or not there even really is a Right of Privacy!
(By the way, there is. Those who say that there is no Right of Privacy because no such Right is specifically listed among the so-called 'Bill of Rights' have either never read [or, much more likely, simply choose to ignore] the 9th Amendment to the United States Constitution [itself part of that 'Bill of Rights'] which specifically states that [t]he enumeration in the Constitution of certain Rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People... there you go! *I* WIN!!... but thanks for playing and at least you get to take the 'home version' of the "game" with you!)
In America, the argument over the very existence (where not also the efficacy) of a Right of Privacy has, pretty much, been largely driven by the continuing controversies over the issue of legal Abortion. In the case of Griswold v. Connecticut [381 U.S. 479 (1965)], the U.S. Supreme Court- for the first time- declared that a Right of Privacy was implicit within the Federal Constitution (the High Court's majority, however, had failed to agree on just how it was so implied) and binding upon the States through the 14th Amendment to that Constitution (the Court had, by that time, held- in numerous cases over the previous four decades- that provisions within that 14th Amendment protected "fundamental personal rights and 'liberties' " against State encroachment, even where the State's own Constitution and laws might be silent); in Roe v. Wade [410 U.S. 113 (1973)]- along with its lesser known companion case, Doe v. Bolton [410 U.S. 179 (1973)]- the U.S. Supreme Court declared that said Right of Privacy was itself protected against even State encroachment by the same provisions of the 14th Amendment cited in all those earlier cases (thereby negating all the confusion engendered by differing concurring opinions in the Griswold case)...
but Roe v. Wade permitted legal Abortion (with restrictions primarily based on in which trimester a given pregnancy happened to be) nationwide and Griswold, by extension, was seen as having served as the main underpinning of Roe (very simple, then: undo Griswold and you also unravel Roe [or so the advocates of just such a jurisprudential strategy think]). Griswold itself had struck down a State statute prohibiting even the dispensing of contraceptive advice to married couples (which, in and of itself, explains why, nearly half a century after Griswold had been decided, at least one presidential candidate in 2012- Republican former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum- would argue in favor of perhaps, once again, banning Birth Control...
"only in America"!)
The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks merely exacerbated this reaction against a Right of Privacy here in the United States (and, at the same time, provided a political argument against said Right that was much broader-based than that made by anti-Abortion [where not also anti-Birth Control] activists): to many Americans, protecting the community from "the next 9/11" required a loss of much of the expectation of privacy in exchange for security (and the debate about Privacy flowing from Edward Snowden's recent revelations on this side of the Atlantic [coming, as they did, not all that long after this Spring's Boston Marathon Bombing] seem to, if only for the time being, have continued this trend: for there are many Americans who see not all that much wrong with what the NSA has been doing if it, indeed, serves to keep the homeland safe).
Nevertheless, in Europe, there is a Right of Privacy- one protected by the EU's own supranational judiciary (as described above)- and the NSA's data-mining (as described by Snowden-- that is: as this has been filtered through the news media that has had access to him) clearly violates European Union Law. If only theoretically (because the United States of America would certainly claim "sovereign immunity" [as a sovereign, independent Nation-State under International Law] on behalf of its own Federal agencies), there is potential legal liability here! (It is even possible that any NSA officer/employer or subcontractor [such as the company for which Edward Snowden himself used to work] within the jurisdiction of one or more of the EU Member-States could, potentially, be vulnerable to legal action).
But Europeans are here faced with an early 21st Century version of the late 19th into early 20th Century 'Standard of Civilization' test:
During those heady days of Western Imperialism- while the Great Powers of Europe were, say, "carving up Africa" amongst themselves back in the 1880s- International Law (which was itself a product of Western Civilization) included the notion of the necessity for just such a "standard of civilization" test in order to determine just who was "worthy" of the benefits of said International Law (the Great Powers' own answer to this was, of course, "only the [European] Great Powers [along with, yes, the United States of America and the independent Nation-States of the Western Hemisphere (all- in the context of the USA's 'Monroe Doctrine'- presumed to be within the USA's own 'sphere of influence')]").
This was bad enough for those areas of the globe being so "carved up" (let alone for all the colonies and dependencies of the same Great Powers- Britain and France; Spain and Portugal; the Netherlands and Belgium; Germany and Italy- already having been established) but it even applied to Nation-States outside the West already at least nominally independent (this including 'protectorates' [states autonomous as regards their internal/domestic affairs but with a Great Power (the 'protector') controlling their external/foreign relations (and, by extension, their military capabilities)-- that is: to the benefit of the 'protecting' Power]).
The Great Powers of the mid-to-late 19th Century saw their mission as bringing 'civilization' (meaning, of course, Western Civilization) to the rest of the (non-Western [put most bluntly: non-White, racially]) world and International Law (which governed relations between these Great Powers going back to the establishment of the so-called 'Concert of Europe' in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1814-1815) was an adjunct to- where it might not even be a vehicle for- this 'civilizing' mission.
Only late in the "game" (in the decade before this whole 'system' created by the Great Powers began to, finally, crumble-- beginning with that carnage known as 'the Great War'-- that is: World War I) was the first non-Western (non-White) Nation-State allowed to more fully participate in this very "game": this being the then-Empire of Japan which had, in 1905, just won the Russo-Japanese War over (obviously) the Russian Empire (as well as, at the same time, having taken more direct control over Korea [which the Japanese called 'Chosen']). Yet, as a Japanese diplomat invited to one of the first international conferences held after this "sea change" wryly- yet also rather pointedly- noted (to a European diplomat), "only once we had proven ourselves in organized barbarity were we then invited into your councils as 'civilized men' ".
It was the President of the United States in 1905, Theodore Roosevelt, who was the man who steered the negotiations that ended the aforementioned Russo-Japanese War at Portsmouth, New Hampshire (actually: the Treaty of Portsmouth was hammered out at the Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine-- but who's counting?) yet the United States of America (despite its 'Monroe Doctrine' keeping the Great Powers out of the Western Hemisphere [and, by extension, the United States (itself busily engaged in consolidating the first two of its three "Empires", as described earlier in this piece) out of the aforementioned Great Power 'system']) was not at all immune to its own application of such a 'standard of civilization'.
For, going all the way back to the original English colonists in the North America of the early 17th Century, a rather crude version of same was already in play: for colonists from New England to the Carolinas more usually justified their taking of the lands of the Native American 'Indians' on grounds that said lands were not being utilized properly (for 'civilization' required settlement [indeed, one of the roots of the very word is the Latin civitas: a "city-state"] and, as nomadic hunters, the 'Indians' were, therefore, not at all "civilized" (here an adjective) to the Western minds of the colonists [the fact that the 'Indians' were also not Christian (though the phrase "un-Christian lands" is found in some colonial charters) was, in the main, but a secondary consideration])-- indeed, it was this very 'standard of civilization' (as much as the 'Indians' therein having allied themselves against the Continental Army during the Revolution) that allowed, in the minds of those leading the fight on the American side, for the conquest of Iroquoia (the very region George Washington himself toured in 1783, as noted earlier in this piece) on behalf of New York State: Iroquoia was simply destined to be "civilized" (here a verb) by the White Man's America.
Meanwhile: the same "Teddy" Roosevelt who would win the Nobel Peace Prize as a result of his efforts at Portsmouth (Kittery) had already declared, a year before the Treaty of Portsmouth, the so-called "Roosevelt Corollary" to that 'Monroe Doctrine'.
It is our duty to remember, this President Roosevelt wrote in his Annual Message to Congress in 1904, that a nation has no more right to do injustice to another nation, strong or weak, than an individual has to do injustice to another individual; that the same moral law applies in one case as in the other. But we must also remember that it is as much the duty of the Nation to guard its own rights and its own interests as it is the duty of the individual so to do. Within the Nation the individual has now delegated this right to the state; that is, to the representative of all the individuals, and it is a maxim of the law that for every wrong there is a remedy. But in international law we have not advanced by any means as far as we have advanced in municipal law. There is as yet no judicial way of enforcing a right in international law...
Until some method is devised by which there shall be a degree of international control over offending nations, it would be a wicked thing for the most civilized powers, for those with most sense of international obligations and with keenest and most generous appreciation of the difference between right and wrong, to disarm. If the great civilized nations of the present day should completely disarm, the result would mean an immediate recrudescence of barbarism in one form or another. Under any circumstances a sufficient armament would have to be kept up to serve the purposes of international police; and until international cohesion and the sense of international duties and rights are far more advanced than at present, a nation desirous both of securing respect for itself and of doing good to others must have a force adequate for the work which it feels is allotted to it as its part of the general world duty. Therefore it follows that a self-respecting, just and far-seeing nation should on the one hand endeavor by every means to aid in the development of the various movements which tend to provide substitutes for war, which tend to render nations in their actions toward one another, and indeed toward their own peoples, more responsive to the general sentiment of humane and civilized mankind; and on the other hand it should keep prepared, while scrupulously avoiding wrongdoing itself, to repel any wrong, and in exceptional cases to take action which in a more advanced stage of international relations would come under the head of the exercise of the international police. A great free people owes it to itself and to all mankind not to sink into helplessness before the powers of evil.
Later in this same Message, Roosevelt would declaim that [a]ny country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power.
It is what is in the immediately preceding paragraph that is the actual 'Roosevelt Corollary' per se but this can only be most fully understood within the context of that which I quoted from Theodore Roosevelt before this and well note, gentle reader, that what comes earlier is replete with references to what amounts to an American 'standard of civilization' test!
Fast forward to now more than a century after "Teddy" first penned the above italicized words and we have a United States of America now itself something of a globe-straddling "Empire" (primarily because it currently has the only Navy [and one that advertises itself on television as "A Global Force For Good"] capable of effectively patrolling all three trading oceans- the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific) and, thereby, forced- no less than were those Great Powers holding their own Empires up to at least around a century ago- to apply its own 'standard of civilization' test (and one not all that different from that proposed by Theodore Roosevelt).
To many- if not most- Americans, Europe is found rather wanting in this regard (which is rather ironic, considering that Europe was the very cradle of that Western Civilization which America now sees itself as having a mission to preserve and protect): America is, seemingly, the most religious Nation on earth (though the debate about whether or not this means it is a "Christian Nation" rages on: the fact being that it is the non-Christians in the United States who actually maintain a higher degree of participation in organized religion per se [as might well be expected of those who are 1. still relatively newly arrived in this country and 2. are very much a minority]) while Europe seems, to many Americans, to be a veritable pit of Secularism (where not also, as many a conservative American maintains, abject "Godlessness" [whatever that means!]).
Put most basically: many Americans, therefore, see a necessity in well-perusing the data engendered by the electronic communications of Europeans (though there are many Americans who, of course, do not [and are just as upset about NSA data-gathering in Europe as they are about that which has taken place on this side of the Atlantic]) who, or so these Americans perceive, are all too harboring of Jihadist terrorists hell bent on, someday, attacking within the United States (in which regard the Europeans are seen as not at all up to the highest 'standard of civilization' [and, thereby, interference by the United States of America on its own behalf- even in so stealthy a way as the NSA's alleged methodologies- is altogether justified]).
However (and having noted this): it is, of course and in the end, up to the European polity itself to decide how best to deal with any and all of this:
The Member-States of the European Union are, after all, all democracies (in fact, democratic institutions- along with their necessary underpinnings: such as Freedom of Speech and of the Press- are required for even being considered for EU membership [in a sense, then, the European Union has its own version of the requirement- in the United States' own Constitution (in the first portion of its Article IV, Section 4) that [t]he United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government...]) and, as democracies, the citizens of the EU nations have to "chew on" the ramifications of what the NSA has been doing in- as I've said- clear violation of the EU's own Charter of Fundamental Rights...
as far as this might be concerned (including any and all pressure ordinary Europeans might, thereby, bring upon their own political leaderships [plural here because we're talking about the institutions of the EU itself as well as those of the EU Member-States individually]), the United States of America can do nothing!
But we yet have that first boldfaced statement I made in this very piece-- which I will now repeat, if only for emphasis:
the European Union does nothing MAJOR without the United States of America at least "looking the other way", where the USA does not actually indicate its approval.
Europeans, therefore, still have to well consider just how much they might (or might not) want to so "stick it in the eye" of the 'Emperor'- the quintessential "Leader of the Free World": that is, the President of the United States- and his Administration.
The very fact that there are- as there, at least for quite some time to come, will ever be- Europeans who want to do just that (and in many and various ways and means) is precisely why Edward Snowden's revelations have opened up just such a "new can of worms"!