Monday

22nd Oct 2018

Commission data protection reforms under fire

  • Reding: 'It is understandable to me that certain lobbyists from powerful multinationals are not very keen on delegated acts' (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding Thursday (3 May) rejected criticism that certain provisions within her draft proposal on data protection rules could amount to a power-grab by the European Commission.

She was forced onto the defensive after a high-level expert committee in March said the commission would be making too many changes to current data protection rules without proper oversight - potentially leading to legal uncertainty.

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

“The Working Party has serious reservations with regard to the extent the commission is empowered to adopt delegated and implementing acts, which is especially relevant because a fundamental right is at stake,” the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party said at the time.

Such acts, introduced in the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon, allow the commission to make minor changes to the law without affecting its core. Both the European parliament and council - representing member states - maintain some oversight over any such changes.

Specifically, a delegated act supplements or amends so-called non-essential elements of EU legislation while an implementing act, proposes uniform conditions for its implementation.

The working party pointed out that in Reding’s regulation a number of issues including data breach notification and mutual assistance could only be applied using such acts. And the use of them are at the commission’s discretion.

“The adoption of delegated or implementing acts for a large numbers of articles may take several years and could represent legal uncertainty," it said.

But Reding countered the working party position on Thursday by stating that delegated acts have essentially ended “the secretive way of technical legislation” drafted by bureaucratic committees behind closed doors.

Both parliament and council must explicitly agree to the acts in the text of the legislation, the commissioner pointed out.

“It is understandable to me that certain lobbyists from powerful multinationals are not very keen on delegated acts,” said Reding.

She added: “It is much easier to influence a handful of national experts in national ministries in a meeting behind closed doors than to change the view of 754 directly elected European Parliamentarians.”

A spokesperson from the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee agreed that such acts increase the transparency of the EU legislative process.

But detractors, like Vicky Marissen who is managing director at Pact European Affairs, a Brussels-based consultancy specialising in EU decision-making procedures, also claims the acts give the commission too much power.

Marissen, who co-authored and contributed to two books on comitology with Daniel Gueguen, argues that discussions on delegated and implementing acts should involve people who have to implement the laws, including member states’ authorities and businesses.

She argues that neither the parliament or council would really be able to amend the delegated acts outlined in Reding’s proposal on data protection reform.

“Great autonomy is given to the European commission which not only proposes the delegated acts but also adopts them. The European parliament and the council can veto it but under strict conditions. The parliament requires an absolute majority while the council requires a qualified majority," noted Marissen.

Russian activist warns on 'fake news' as EU backs action

In 2015, internet activist Lyudmila Savchuk went under cover to expose a troll factory in St Petersburg. As the EU summit endorses anti-disinformation action, she told EUobserver the Russian government is bankrolling many more.

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar
  2. Bannon's The Movement to launch with January summit
  3. What Italy's budget row is actually about
  4. EU preparing 'concentration camps' for migrants in Africa
  5. Poland to respect EU injunction on judicial purge
  6. EU votes on Facebook and plastic This WEEK
  7. Top EU banks guilty of multi-billion tax fraud
  8. Polish left a glimmer of hope in fight against illiberal democracy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us