EU DP Regulation Trilogue agreement by the end of the year still possible

Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, said at Forum Europe’s 6th Annual DP and Privacy Conference in Brussels today that the EU Data Protection Regulation is in its “final stages….The European Commission will support its implementation…Business in Europe will save 2.3 billion Euros in administrative costs. It will develop new opportunities. We expect to arrive at an agreement in the next two weeks and then prepare for implementation…. DPAs will work together more closely.”

She described her personal commitment and involvement. “Yesterday I had breakfast with Mr Schrems. The Safe Harbor had deficiencies…We want robust safeguards for citizens. I met Julie Brill last Friday.” Business is looking for guidance on international transfers so the European Commission issued its recent Communication. We are waiting for the US Congress to adopt the Judicial Redress Act 2015 which would give European citizens the same rights as US citizens regarding the Privacy Act 1974. “The appropriate US Senate committee is discussing this subject today. I met the committee’s chairman when in Washington recently.”

In answer to PL&B’s question, Věra Jourová said that the European Commission “will conduct continuous monitoring” of any new Safe Harbor system. It expects any new SH to have “a precise description and clear exceptions….to ensure that companies’ commitments are fulfilled…The Commission will play a more active role.” She will expect annual reports from:
1. companies which are members of a new Safe Harbor
2. the US government on the scope of surveillance in the national security area, and
3. US-based Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) public interest organisations, which are interested in promoting privacy as a fundamental right.

In future, there will be a clear suspension clause which has been implicit in the past.

Julie Brill, US FTC Commissioner, said the efforts of Congress to adopt the Judicial Redress Act 2015 are very significant.

However, neither speaker addressed PL&B’s question about how this proposed new law to give EU citizens rights in the US would bridge the gap between:
• the narrow focus of the US Federal Privacy Act 1974, covering personal data held by the Federal government, and
• the broad scope of the EU Data Protection Regulation covering all types of personal data in which US citizens would have very broad rights in the EU.
Therefore, the objective of reciprocal rights would be fulfilled only in part.

Luxembourg’s Justice Minister, Felix Braz, representing the EU Presidency, said that his team is working towards a conclusion of the Trilogue by 17 December. He said that “the new rules will be waterproof.” The Luxembourg Presidency “wants to achieve high profile compromises” to achieve a Trilogue agreement by the end of the year.