Tuesday

17th Jul 2018

Data bill enters final leg of state-level talks

  • Latvia's EU presidency hopes ministers will reach a general agreement on the data bill in June (Photo: nitot)

Latvia’s EU presidency is aiming to wrap up years of talks on the EU’s data protection reform within the next few weeks.

First proposed at the start of 2012, the data protection bill has already gone through the European Parliament, which adopted its version in March last year.

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 plan is to have member states adopt theirs on 15 June so that negotiations can finally kick off with the parliament - but it is an ambitious task.

Four chapters were closed last year. Italy and Greece, the last two EU presidencies, managed to close only three.

Agreements have been reached on rules for public authorities, data transfer rules to countries outside the EU, rules on processors, controllers, and data protection officers, as well as rules on archiving and statistics for history and research purposes.

They also designated the lead data protection authority, charged to resolve disputes, as the one based in the country of the company’s main establishment.

The Latvian EU presidency, for its part, was handed eight chapters to resolve when it first started at the beginning of the year.

So far, it has managed to close only three.

Among the most contentious issues resolved include the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’, now called the ‘right to erasure’

What’s left?

Five chapters remain to be wrapped up in the next few weeks.

“We still think this is a reasonable aim and feasible,” said one EU diplomat.

The remaining chapters include issues on data subject rights, sanctions, definitions, final provisions, and the complex legal interpretations of implemented and delegated acts (secondary legislation).

The diplomat said talks have taken so long because of the different cultures and the complexity of the regulation itself.

Scandinavian countries, noted the source, argue, for instance, that the right to public information can prevail over privacy claims whereas Germany, the Netherlands, or Austria would be unlikely to take this line of argument.

Pressure to get the agreement sorted is mounting because of the uncertainties it creates for businesses.

Tough talks ahead with the European Parliament

Important differences have already emerged between what the European Parliament wants and what the member states have agreed.

For one, there is consent.

The parliament wants consent to process personal data to be explicit with member states wanting a more ambiguous option.

Second, member states want a risk-based approach to data protection, which would see risk quantified through things like impact assessments.

But detractors argue privacy is a fundamental right and cannot be measured in a uniform manner.

The parliament says IT systems should design their services “in a data-minimising way and with the most data protection-friendly pre-settings".

Member states also say data protection officers, used to make sure a company properly complies with the reformed rules, should be optional. The parliament says a mandatory appointment of such officers should depend on the amount and relevance of data processed by the company.

Another source of contention between the two EU institutions will over sanctions for rule-breaking.

Member states want sanctions to be up to two percent of global annual turnover but the parliament is suggesting as much as five percent.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Polish PM defends judicial witch-hunt

Poland's judicial purge was meant to punish former communists, its PM has said, in an angry EU debate that saw him ultimately promise to respect EU court rulings.

EU leaders still in search of migration plan

Select EU leaders met amid rising tension over migration, with Italy's PM, who had threatened to boycott the summit, putting forward a new plans to stop boats from leaving Libya.

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. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU and China agree on words, not yet on action
  2. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  3. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  4. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  5. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  6. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  7. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  8. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us