Friday

18th Jan 2019

Focus

EU takes step towards free flow of data

  • The idea of free flow of non-personal data means that information from one EU country should be able to be stored or transferred seamlessly to a server in another EU member state (Photo: European Union)

Ambassadors for the 28 EU countries embraced the idea of allowing non-personal data to flow freely across the bloc on Wednesday (20 December), by adopting a common position on a European Commission proposal.

"Seamless data mobility saves costs for businesses, especially for start-ups and SMEs, and is essential for many next-generation digital services," said Estonian minister for information technology Urve Palo in a statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Estonia holds the six-month EU presidency until the end of December.

In the Council of the EU, diplomats on Wednesday adopted their desired version of the legislative proposal, which allows Estonia's successor, Bulgaria, to start talks over the final bill with the European Parliament.

The council has some changes it wants to make, and it can be expected of MEPs that they too will table amendments.

But the council embraced the principle of the draft bill, which is that non-personal data should be allowed to cross EU borders without restrictions, except in cases where the restriction is there for public security.

It will mean that EU member states that have laws restricting companies or organisations from storing data abroad, will have to change these laws.

They also will not be allowed to introduce new laws that would restrict data flows, except when public security is concerned. Governments would have to inform the commission and provide a justification.

The commission proposed that all laws and rules clashing with this principle of free flow of non-personal data should be repealed within twelve months of adoption of the regulation. The council proposed to give governments twice as much time.

The council also opposed the commission's idea to set up a Free Flow of Data Committee, and deleted the paragraph establishing such a body from its version.

The council decision on Wednesday came 98 days after the commission published its proposal, which is fast by the standards of the EU bubble.

It now needs to wait for the EU parliament to come up with its position, before the EU institutions can negotiate over the final outcome.

The MEP who was appointed to be in charge of steering the file through parliament on 25 October, centre-right Swede Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, has not yet written a draft report.

The file was initially attributed to the parliament's industry committee, and then to Corazza Bildt's internal market committee.

A draft report would need to be discussed and then voted on in the committee, and possibly in plenary, before talks can begin.

EU government leaders said in a summit last October that the legislative work should be done by June 2018.

Watchdogs concerned by EU-US data pact

European data protection authorities tell US to improve oversight on 'Privacy Shield' scheme, otherwise they would go to the EU's highest court.

Some EU states face delays in 5G preparation

National governments secured a one-year extension for publishing plans to make radio frequencies available for mobile communications - but some were nevertheless unable to meet the deadline.

Exclusive

EU official proposed covering up wifi portal flaw

Director of Electronic Communications Networks and Services Anthony Whelan says in an internal document that he wanted to eliminate "possible criticisms" and "marginalise questions".

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us