European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday he expected Berlin to get to the bottom of a Brussels spy scandal after Germany reportedly snooped on the EU and France at Washington's behest.
In a turnaround for Berlin which has long been portrayed as a victim of snooping by allies, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said German intelligence services had carried out "political espionage" on the Commission and top French officials.
"I do not know if German agents are active here," Juncker told reporters when asked about the report.
"I know from personal experience that (the secret services) are very difficult to be kept under control. The German authorities will have to deal with that and I expect they will," he added.
"I don't have any intelligence evidence about what was happening in Germany, so it would be irresponsible to give you a clear cut answer to this... this will have to be sorted out by the Germans, including parliamentary authorities, and we will see."
Juncker's spokesman Margaritis Schinas added that the EU was "on the ball" in terms of counterespionage efforts but would not give further details.
Thursday's newspaper report said Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency helped the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) carry out "political espionage" by surveilling "top officials at the French Foreign Ministry, the Elysee Palace and European Commission."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- whose own mobile phone was reportedly bugged by U.S. intelligence -- found herself embarrassed earlier this week when Bild daily said her office had been informed in 2008 of Germany's involvement in U.S. espionage but did nothing.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a trusted Merkel lieutenant who served as her chief of staff 2005-2009, has offered to provide an explanation next week to a parliamentary committee looking into the activities of the ultra-secretive NSA.
The German opposition meanwhile charged that government has lied about what it knew, sparking a sharp response from Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert Wednesday: "I reject categorically the assertion that the government has not told the truth."
Germany was outraged at revelations in 2013 by fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden that the NSA was conducting massive Internet and phone data sweeps, including in Germany.
The scandal, which included claims the NSA tapped Merkel's mobile phone, badly strained ties between Washington and Berlin.
Juncker himself was forced to resign as Luxembourg prime minister and call elections in 2013 after revelations of misconduct by the tiny duchy's own secret service including illegal phone-taps and corruption.