Friday

27th Apr 2018

Leading EU party wants to ditch EU-US data agreement

The European Parliament’s largest political group, the centre-right EPP, wants to end an EU-US data exchange agreement known as Safe Harbour.

German centre-right MEP Manfred Weber, who is the group’s vice-president, told this website on Tuesday (29 October) in an email that the “EPP group wants to terminate the agreement as it stands now and negotiate new rules.”

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Facebook's new custom-built Data Center based in Prineville, Oregon - the company has signed up to Safe Harbour (Photo: Tom Raftery)

He said American IT companies are not respecting the terms of the agreement, meant to protect the personal data of EU citizens.

“There have been doubts if the firms always fully comply with the rules, not just since the revelations about the NSA activities. This has to stop,” he said.

He added that clear ground rules are needed to protect the personal data of EU citizens from the US-based companies.

“That is why we are saying ‘yes’ to a strict EU data protection legislation but ‘no’ to the Safe Harbour Agreement in its present form,” he said.

Critics say the so-called Safe Harbour agreement is full of loopholes and rarely enforced by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Around 3,000 US companies have signed up to the self-certification scheme, which is only enforceable once the company makes a promise to adhere to a handful of privacy principles.

An annual compliance check by an independent body is not mandatory. Those which opt-out of the an independent review are required to review themselves.

The agreement, which excludes financial services, transport, and telecommunications sectors, was signed over a decade ago between the FTC and the European Commission.

A European Parliament civil liberties committee earlier this month revealed that one in seven companies lie about belonging to the agreement.

“At the time, they [EPP] wanted to uphold it [Safe Harbour],” said Dutch liberal Sophie in 't Veld.

The parliament last week passed a non-binding resolution to scrap a separate Swift agreement, which involves the transfer of bank data between the US and the EU.

“The German MEPs wanted to keep the Swift agreement, so it seems they’ve come to higher insights fairly rapidly,” she noted.

For her part, EU commissioner for justice Viviane Reding raised concerns over the agreement in a speech delivered at a trade conference in Washington DC.

She noted that “inter-operability and self-regulation is not enough” to restore the trust the American’s have lost in the EU since the on-going NSA revelations.

"The existing scheme has been criticised by European industry and questioned by European citizens: they say it is little more than a patch providing a veil of legitimacy for the US firms using it," said Reding.

Her department is set to issue an analysis of the Safe Harbour before the end of year.

Meanwhile, a handful of MEPs from the civil liberties committee are in Washington DC as part of the overall inquiry into the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens by the NSA.

The nine-member delegation, led by British centre-left MEP Claude Moraes, are set to discuss the agreement with US federal trade commissioner on Wednesday.

A EU contact in Washington said the Americans will have to rebuild the confidence lost as a result of the on-going NSA-led snooping allegations on EU citizens and their leadership.

“It [Safe Harbour] is wider than the immediate wire-tapping because that has consequences or that has implications on trust on how we work together,” noted the contact.

EU tells platforms to sort fake news by October or face new law

The European Commission wants results by October against fake news - or it may impose regulations targeting "a few platforms." But its current plans are not acceptable to everyone, with civil groups saying more evidence is needed to shape policy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  2. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  3. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  6. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  7. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  9. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  10. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  11. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  12. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off

Latest News

  1. EU tells platforms to sort fake news by October or face new law
  2. Civil society chief: social media can't replace engagement
  3. The reality behind the €7 'Brexit bombshell visa'
  4. Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget
  5. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  6. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  7. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs
  8. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work