Friday

22nd Jun 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.

... our 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.

Investigation

UK unlawfully copying data from EU police system

The British government is abusing EU travel security systems, making and using illegal copies of outdated information, and putting innocent people at risk of being red-flagged.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

News in Brief

  1. EU closes deficit procedure against France
  2. Romania's ruling party leader gets jail sentence
  3. EU states defer individual decisions on asylum reforms
  4. Commission opens case on Qatar gas flow
  5. EU adopts posted workers directive
  6. EU leaders to call for 'coordinated plan' on AI
  7. May passes Brexit bill after rebels accept compromise
  8. Pope: populists 'creating a psychosis' on migrants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us