The European Commission is planning to set up a single data protection agreement to cover all data transfers between the EU and US.
An umbrella agreement that resolves differences will enable future agreements on information sharing to be reached quickly and almost automatically, Viviane Reding, EC justice and rights commissioner, told The Atlantic Council in Washington.
The past negotiations on the transfer of airline passenger data and the more recent talks on the transfer of financial-transaction data for counter terrorism have shown that it is not always so easy to find mutually accepted standards and practices for the protection of the personal data, she said.
"It is my determination to end this piecemeal approach. That is why, within my first few months in office in Brussels, I worked on a mandate to start negotiations with the US on an umbrella data protection agreement," said Reding.
"We need to provide legal certainty to data transfers and we have to ensure that these transfers are all subject to a high standard of data protection, and this on both sides of the Atlantic," she said.
The EU member states are currently discussing the details of this proposal ahead of official negotiations with the US that are expected to begin within weeks.
The European Parliament last week withdrew its objections to the processing of European banking data by the US and approved a new deal with improved privacy protections.