21st Mar 2018

EU data protection bill 'moves backwards'

  • Reding: 'I cannot accept that the one stop-shop becomes an empty shell' (Photo:

The EU data protection regulation hit a setback on Friday (6 December) after justice ministers backed off on a key component.

“The ministers did not want to make hasty decisions,” Lithuanian Justice Minister Juozas Bernatonis told reporters.

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.

But the EU commissioner for justice, Viviane Reding, described it as a disappointing day for data privacy.

Insiders say delay tactics triggered by a number of states means adoption would likely occur near the end of 2014, after European Parliament elections.

An EU diplomat said Germany, with the support of Sweden and Belgium, is partly responsible for the delay.

The issue revolves around a so-called one-stop shop principle, considered a central pillar of the proposal because it harmonizes decision-making across the bloc.

Each member state has a data protection authority (DPA) to handle complaints to ensure industry complies with national privacy laws. Some have more powers than others and are more pro-active in taking up cases, however.

Germany’s DPA can, for instance, set the amount a company needs to pay if it violates data protection law.

But in Ireland, the DPA must first go through the Irish court system.

Other DPAs simply issue press releases in a name-and-shame tactic.

An amendment to the draft law tabled by German Green Jan Philipp Albrecht would allow EU citizens to issue complaints on data-mishandling directly to their national data supervisors.

A person in Austria, for instance, who wants to file a complaint against Facebook, would not have to reach out to authorities in Ireland, where it has its European seat.

The Austrian data authority would instead pass on the complaint, in a co-ordinating role, to its Irish counterpart.

Any decision made by the Irish authority would then be binding across the bloc.

A "European Data Protection Board" would step in to mediate if the two co-ordinating authorities disagree on the verdict.

On the other side, companies would be able to tackle EU-wide data cases through the data chief in the EU country in which they have their HQ, instead of dealing with 28 national regimes.

“The code word is always ‘this is too important’ to take hasty decisions,” an EU diplomat told this website.

The German argument, said the contact, is that Berlin does not want the EU law to be any weaker than its domestic one.

But the EU data proposal is modelled on the German one.

“Reding has asked the German minister so many times to send her just two examples where they think the German standard is higher,” said the contact.

Opposing member states also say the bill would result in an overcomplicated system.

They say certain additional powers should instead be given to the European Data Protection Board.

Reding’s idea does have some backing.

The United Kingdom, along with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Denamrk are said to favour it.

But the UK has issue with the legal basis and wants to downgrade the "regulation" into a "directive."

“There is no question that this will be turned into a directive, I mean there is simply nobody asking for that aside from them,” noted the diplomat.

An EU regulation is immediately applicable across the bloc when it is passed. But a directive must be transposed into national law, which can take years and lead to fudging.

Reding, for her part, pointed out that ministers in October had agreed that one national data protection authority should be in charge for a company and for a citizen’s complaints, not 28.

“Today, we have moved backwards,” she said.


EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery

The EU-Turkey deal was agreed two years ago in Brussels. Focus has largely been on reducing migrant flows across the Mediterranean and helping Syrian refugees in Turkey, while the plight of those on the Greek islands are ignored.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  2. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  3. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  4. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  5. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  6. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  7. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad
  8. Norway's far-right doubles support as minister resigns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  2. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  3. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  4. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  5. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  6. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  7. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus
  8. EU to probe UK 'election-rigging' firm

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections