PL&B International E-news, Issue 65

1. European Court orders access over national veto

The European Court of Justice, on 18th December, ordered the European Commission to disclose documents submitted by Germany in connection with a successful request for industrial development in a protected area, despite objections by Germany to such disclosure. The Grand Chamber of the Court, overruling the Court of First Instance, ruled that for a Member State to have a ”general and unconditional right of veto” to oppose disclosure “in an entirely discretionary manner and without having to give reasons” would not be compatible with the objectives of the EU rules on transparency.

To be successful, such objections must be based on substantive exemptions to the right of access to documents, such as harm to public security, the economic security of a State, or to commercial interests.

Six countries other than Germany intervened in the case.

A full report and analysis will appear in PL&B International 91 next month.

2. EU Treaty confirms data protection and freedom of information

The Treaty of Lisbon, signed on 13 December, incorporates the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, approved in Strasbourg on 12 December. The Charter contains provisions establishing both the data protection right of access to personal information and the freedom of information general right of access to EU documents. The Treaty must now be ratified by Member States of the EU.

3. Spain adopts new data protection regulation

Spain, on 19th January, published a new Regulation on Data Protection. The Regulation includes non-automated files and obliges data controllers to offer rights of access and modification to data subjects. Regarding children, the Regulation requires the consent of parents for processing of information about children under 14, and requires consent of those over 14. The Regulation establishes new rules on the relationship between data controllers and data processors, and new rules on security measures. Spain’s Data Protection Authority is authorised to declare that a country has an adequate level of protection for purposes of international transfers of personal data, even if that country has not been approved by the European Union.

A full report and analysis will appear in PL&B International 91 next month.

There will be a European Privacy Officers Network meeting in Madrid. On March 11th, there will be a briefing by Bird & Bird and on March 12th, there will be a Roundtable with Professor Artemi Rallo Lombarte, President of the Data Protection Agency and his colleagues, hosted by Bird & Bird.

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Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2008