Sunday

3rd Mar 2024

EU states endorse data sharing pact with US

  • Data transfers between the US and EU are worth some €230 billion a year. (Photo: Nicolas Nova)

Most EU governments on Friday (8 July) backed a new data sharing agreement with the United States.

The European Commission is now set to launch the so-called Privacy Shield pact next Tuesday after it issues a so-called 'adequacy decision'.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia had abstained from backing the latest agreement, an EU official told this website.

Despite the abstentions, the broader endorsements means Shield will now formally replace, Safe Harbour, a 15-year old agreement that was declared invalid last October by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The agreement aims to safeguard the privacy of Europeans when their data is transferred to firms based in the United States.

EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova and her US counterpart had in February declared a political agreement on the pact.

But when national data protection authorities in the Article 29 Working Party combed it over, they told the EU commission in April to come back with an improved version.

The working party said the deal contained loopholes and allowed the US to bulk collect data of EU citizens. They also had issues on a US oversight plan.

Jourova last month told this website that the latest reiteration had addressed the outstanding concerns raised by the privacy regulators.

On Friday, in a statement, she said Shield "will ensure a high level of protection for individuals and legal certainty for business."

Jourova says the US had given her written assurances that they won't engage in the indiscriminate mass surveillance of EU citizen data.

Those assurances also include promises of "clear limitations, safeguards and oversight mechanisms" whenever the police or national security in the US want access to the data of Europeans.

The deal is also important for businesses who have had to contend with more complex and costly data transfer methods since the Luxembourg court scrapped the old Safe Harbour agreement.

Privacy Shield should make those transfers more straightforward.

Brussels-based DigitalEurope, which represents the digital technology industry in Europe, said in a statement that they hope "Privacy Shield will ease some of the recent pressure on alternative transfer mechanisms."

But not everyone is convinced the latest plan won't end up back at the European Court of Justice.

Digital rights defenders at Access Now say the reformed Shield still allows for the mass collection of people's data by the US.

"The recommendations made by experts to bring the Privacy Shield in line with EU law have been largely ignored by the EU Commission in the redrafting process," said Estelle Masse, a policy analyst at Access Now, in a statement.

Jourova, for her part, is set to discuss the deal with MEPs in the civil liberties committee on Monday.

EU to adopt new US data rules in July

Talks on Privacy Shield have agreed key issues - on US security access, bulk collection and oversight - EU commissioner Jourova told EUobserver. Questions on data retention outstanding.

EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds

The European Commission has legally paved the way for Poland to access up to €137bn EU funds, following Donald Tusk's government's efforts to strengthen the independence of their judiciary and restore the rule of law in the country.

Latest News

  1. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  2. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  3. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  4. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  5. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  6. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  7. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats
  8. EU won't yet commit funding UN agency in Gaza amid hunger

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us