EU, US to hold new round of free trade talks amid NSA controversy after forced shutdown pause

BRUSSELS – The European Union says the free trade negotiations with the United States will resume next week to make up for a round of talks that was cancelled because of the U.S. government shutdown.

The talks, initially scheduled for early October, come amid heightened political tension between the two economic giants because of European anger over the allegedly widespread online spying activities by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The trade agreement between the two economies — representing almost half of global output — aims at erasing tariffs and streamlining regulation to boost trade and growth.

The European Commission said Monday the talks in Brussels next week are set to focus on services, investment, energy and regulatory issues. The third round of talks will take place in Washington late next month.