The European Council of Ministers has finally approved a version of the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to replace the outdated 1995 directive.
This means that the last phase of negotiation can begin to hammer out a final text, with versions previously being approved by the European Commission and the European Parliament.
The three-way negotiation process between the commission, parliament and council – known as the trilogue – is set to begin on 24 June and is expected to last six months. “The shared ambition is to reach a final agreement by the end of 2015,” the European Commission said in a statement.
Andrus Ansip, vice-president for the digital single market, said this positive step towards improved and harmonised data protection rules is encouraging.
“Data protection is at the heart of the digital single market; it builds a strong basis to help Europe make better use of innovative digital services like big data and cloud computing,” said Ansip.
Věra Jourová, commissioner for justice, said the EU has taken a big step forward in making Europe fit for the digital age. “Citizens and businesses deserve modern data protection rules that keep pace with the latest technological changes,” she said.
Read more about proposed European data protection laws
- More than half of European companies do not know about the legislation planned to unify data protection laws.
- Only half of UK IT decision-makers are aware of the coming EU Data Protection Regulation, compared with 87% in Germany.
- The vast majority of cloud providers are not yet prepared to meet the requirements of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation.
“High data protection standards will strengthen consumers' trust in digital services, and businesses will benefit from a single set of rules across 28 countries. I am convinced that we can reach a final agreement with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers by the end of this year.”
The European Parliament's lead on the data protection regulation, Jan Philipp Albrecht, said that “after more than a year of stalling, it is encouraging that we can finally push ahead with the EU data protection reform”.
However, he said the challenge is now to reconcile the two sides, to ensure that the reform provides reliable and high common standards of data protection, and reach an agreement on this before the end of the year.
“There are clearly differences, notably on consumer rights and the duties of businesses. However, if we can negotiate constructively and pragmatically, it should be possible to deliver a compromise acceptable to both sides within the timeframe. This outcome would benefit everyone and show that the EU takes the concerns of its citizens in the digital age seriously,” said Albrecht.