The chairwoman of the European Parliament's Internet Foundation yesterday expressed hope that the US and EU would establish an agreement to prosecute spammers across international borders.

The US and EU stand at a critical juncture for fighting unsolicited commercial email, with the US Congress currently in the process of considering anti-spam legislation and the European Commission promising concrete action on spam by late this year, said Erika Mann, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Germany.

Mann was among a group of nine MEPs talking to congressional leaders and US federal agencies in Washington this week about working together on technology issues.

"If you don't get international agreement on this issue, you will never solve it," said Mann, during an interview after a press conference with members of the Congressional Internet Caucus (CIC). "We want to go after those (spammers) who are operating illegally."

As Congress considers anti-spam legislation, critics have suggested that US legislation will do little to stem the tide of unwanted email coming from other countries. But Mann said Europeans are just as fed up with spam as US residents are, and she believes the US and European Union will soon come to an agreement that leads to enforcement of spam laws on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

This agreement would then "set the standard for the rest of the world," Mann said.

US Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia and co-chairman of the CIC, didn't talk at length about spam at the joint press conference, but he said the US and European Union need to work more closely together on a variety of technology issues, including spam, piracy and internet taxation.

"The internet is the greatest challenge to the sovereignty of nations and states in the history of mankind," he said, noting that countries have to work together in order to overcome these issues.