Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

EU ministers back weaker data protection rules

  • Triologue talks on the data protection bill kick off on 24 June (Photo: Tom Raftery)

Most justice ministers in Luxembourg on Monday (15 June) backed a 200-page bill that will have far reaching implications for businesses and the personal details of people they use to turn a profit.

The agreement means the Council, representing member states, can start talks with MEPs on a data protection bill launched three years ago by the European Commission.

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 ministerial text has not pleased everyone.

Austria rejected it over fears data protection standards would be lower than current rules.

“In Austria we have a tradition of very high protection for data,” said Austria’s justice minister Wolfgang Brandstetter.

Austria is opposed because of a controversial article 6.4 on purpose limitation.

Loopholes

AccessNow, a Brussels-based digital rights NGO, in a statement said companies would be allowed to “collect and repeatedly use citizens’ personal information without their knowledge” under article 6.4.

The NGO accused ministers of eviscerating the bill by “introducing so many loopholes it’s not even consistent with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

The European Consumer Organisation, Beuc, expressed similar concerns.

It said loopholes should be closed to make sure businesses do not bypass fundamental data protection principles.

The proposed regulation overhauls a two-decade old directive with a single set of binding rules across all member states.

The heavily lobbied proposal received some 4,000 amendments at the parliament before landing at the council last summer.

At its core is the so-called one-stop shop aimed at harmonising data protection decisions across the EU.

End of year deadline

Despite split views on key issues between the two legislating bodies, ministers and lead MEPs on the bill are keen to reach common ground by the year’s end.

Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said he hopes “we will be able to conclude this by the end of the year”.

German Green MEP Jan Phillip Albrecht, who steered the bill through parliament, said the text adopted by the ministers on Monday is workable.

“I really think it is possible to get an agreement there,” he told this website.

However some essential differences still need to be worked out.

Denmark wanted a much weaker directive but grudgingly backed the regulation anyway.

Ireland is afraid the new rules will create additional administrative costs for the big tech and internet firms like Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn, Twitter, eBay, and PayPal that it hosts.

Problem areas

Sanctions, consent, risk-based approach, data protection officers, how the one-stop-shop is governed, and how data is transferred to the United States are also problem areas that will need to be resolved.

The council wants weaker sanctions, opposes mandatory data protection officers, and backs “unambiguous” instead of “explicit” consent on personal data.

On transfers, the parliament had introduced a clause to create a legal basis on how firms pass on the data of EU citizens to American authorities.

The same is not included the council version.

“My impression is that in this area many member states wanted that in also but they just didn’t manage to agree on a wording,” said Albrecht.

Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes

The former Bosnian Serb warlord was sentenced to life in prison for committing genocide and war crimes in Srebrenica and Sarajevo. Mladic is still regarded as a 'hero' among some Bosnian Serbs, in a country undergoing resurgent nationalism.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

MEP switches vote on 'private expenses' transparency

A small group of MEPs are looking into how members of the European Parliament spend the monthly €4,300 'private expenses' funded by taxpayer money. Last month, MEPs voted on transparency amendments on the funds.

News in Brief

  1. No UK 'capital of culture' city post-Brexit
  2. EU sets up natural disaster rescue team
  3. Spain sends migrant arrivals to unfinished prison
  4. Iceland prepares for biggest volcano to blow
  5. Greek parliament postpones debate on Saudi arms deal
  6. Family of murdered Malta journalist to sue police
  7. UK to sell RBS bank stake, boosting government coffers
  8. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  2. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  3. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  4. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  5. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  6. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  7. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  8. Commission warns Italy over high debt level