16th Jan 2018

Lawyers shortlisted for EU data chief post

  • Peter Hustinx has been the EDPS for over ten years (Photo: Pierre Metivier)

Two French corporate lawyers working for American firms and a high-ranking EU official are vying to replace Peter Hustinx as the next European data protection supervisor (EDPS).

All three are set to be grilled late Monday (20 October) evening by MEPs in the civil liberties committee as Hustinx plans to step down and retire.

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The EDPS was set up in 2004 as an independent supervisory authority. Part of its task is to provide advice on policies and legislation that affect privacy.

The importance of the role has expanded in recent years as EU legislators grapple with data protection reforms and privacy issues stemming from US-led mass surveillance regime of EU citizens.

Deputies will select and vote on the their candidate tomorrow before entering talks with the Council – representing member states. A final confirmation is expected sometime near the end of this month or possibly even in November.

Noelle Lenoir (66) is a partner of the American law firm Kramer Levin & Franel LLP, where she has been dealing with European law, competition law and public business law since 2011. She specialises in business confidentiality and personal data protection.

In her letter of motivation, Lenoir writes that European policy on the protection of personal data “is nothing unless the Union is open to international dialogue, particularly with countries with which data is most frequently exchanged”.

Yann Padova, the other French lawyer, is the former secretary general at France’ data protection authority CNIL.

At 47, he is also the youngest of the three.

He kicked off his career in corporate law in October 2012 at the Paris office of Baker & McKenzie. In his cover letter, Padova says a balance needs to be struck between allowing companies to exploit data for commercial ends but at the same time respecting people’s right to privacy.

The two French are up against Giovanni Buttarelli, a 57-year old Italian who has been EDPS assistant supervisor since 2009. Buttarelli’s 24-page CV lays out 20-odd years of experience in the area.

The selection process has taken a long time.

Over ten years in the job, Hustinx was supposed to have already stepped down earlier. The Dutchman was appointed for a second five-year term in 17 January 2009.

An initial vacancy notice was posted in September 2013 but nobody suitable was found. A second vacancy notice was issued over summer.

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