At the annual EU-Brazil summit, Rousseff is seeking to define
financing for the $185 million project that could be in place next
year in an effort to shield Brazil's Internet traffic from U.S.
surveillance, EU and Brazilian officials said.
"We are working on the financial architecture for a fiber-optic link
that would be a direct connection between Brazil and Europe," said
one official as Rousseff arrived in Brussels for talks with the
presidents of the European Commission and European Council.
Rousseff postponed a state visit to Washington last year in protest
at the U.S. National Security Agency spying on her email and phone.
EU leaders are sympathetic to Brazil's call following the
revelations of fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that
showed the agency also eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela
Merkel's mobile phone and some EU institutions.
Brazil relies on U.S. undersea cables to carry almost all of its
communications to Europe. The only existing cable between Europe and
Brazil is outdated and only used for voice transmission.
"As far as cyber is concerned, we share a common interest in a right
balance between privacy and openness on the Internet," European
Council President Herman Van Rompuy said as he received Rousseff,
but did not directly refer to the cable project.
Barack Obama has since banned spying on the leaders of close allies,
but trust has been damaged.
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Brussels is threatening the suspension of EU-U.S. agreements for
data transfers unless Washington increases guarantees for the
protection of EU citizens' data.
Another official, who declined to be named, said the Brazil-EU plan
is part of the wider discussion for the "preservation of the
Internet as a space for freedom of communication, managed
transparently with full respect of individuals."
Under current plans, a joint venture between Brazilian telecoms
provider Telebras and Spain's IslaLink Submarine Cables would lay
the communications link. Telebras would have a 35 percent stake,
IslaLink would have a 45 percent interest and European and Brazilian
pension funds could put up the remainder.
One official said Brazil's overall stake in the project must be over
50 percent and so Brazilian funds will put up more than European
(Additional reporting by Tony Boadle in Brasilia;
e editing by John Stonestreet)
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