On 12 March 2014, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the European Commission’s data protection reform with 621 votes for, 10 against, and 22 abstentions for the proposed General Data Protection Regulation. The vote is significant because it confirms the approval of the European Parliament, one of the required participants in the so-called “trilogue” process along with the Commission and the Council, which will not change even if the composition of the Parliament changes following the European elections in May.
The next step for the Regulation will be the approval of the Council of the EU. In earlier meetings on the data protection reform, the Ministers in the Council broadly supported the principle that the Regulation would apply one set of rules to all companies. However, the Council has not yet defined its position on the current legislative proposal, although it likely will feel pressure given the approval of the Commission and the Parliament. All eyes therefore will be on the Council’s next meeting on the subject in June 2014.
The proposed Regulation, as we have covered previously on the blog, will tighten rules regarding the use of personal data, require additional compliance obligations for data processing, and provide additional controls for individuals over their personal data.
The Commission press release accompanying the Parliament’s vote states:
The message the European Parliament is sending is unequivocal: This reform is a necessity, and now it is irreversible. Europe’s directly elected parliamentarians have listened to European citizens and European businesses and, with this vote, have made clear that we need a uniform and strong European data protection law, which will make life easier for business and strengthen the protection of our citizens,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “Data Protection is made in Europe. Strong data protection rules must be Europe’s trade mark. Following the U.S. data spying scandals, data protection is more than ever a competitive advantage. I want to thank Mr Albrecht and Mr Droutsas for their committed and tireless work on the data protection reform. Today’s vote is the strongest signal that it is time to deliver this reform for our citizens and our businesses.”
Further information on the data protection reform can be found here.