Tag Archives: privacy

The birth of the EU-US Privacy Shield – Minutes of the meeting of the European Commission

On 2 February 2016, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Andrus Ansip and Justice Commissioner Vera Jouravá publicly announced the political agreement with the American government for the new EU-US Privacy Shield (press release).

Shortly before, the College of Commissioners met, chaired by President Juncker to be informed by Ms. Jourovà about the agreement reached and the coarse content of the Privacy Shield. In addition, the College established the general guidelines on how to proceed. The protocol for this session has now been published (pdf). Some excerpts from the minutes of the meeting:

First Vice-President Frank Timmermans

referred to the American authorities‘ proposal to set up a mediation structure for legal challenges by European citizens concerning access to their personal data for national security purposes. He stressed that the structure would be under the responsibility of the American Secretary of State, as confirmed to him by Mr John Kerry. On a more general note, Mr TIMMERMANS considered that the arrangement met the criteria set out by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Schrems case (C-362/14).

Vice-President Andrus Ansip

considered the acceptance of this package at the highest political level to be further evidence of the binding nature of the future agreement. To conclude, he stated that, for all these reasons, the future arrangement would be fundamentally different from the one which had preceded it.

Commissioner Vera Jourová

mentioned the explanations and assurances provided by the American authorities to show that access to data for national security purposes was restricted, under American law, to what was strictly necessary and proportionate.

suggested calling it the ‘EU-US Privacy Shield’ and possibly designing a label for it, to be displayed by undertakings that adhered to its protection standards.

German government demands information and documents from the European Commission

So far little is known about the specific content of the EU-US Privacy Shield. In a meeting of the Committee on the Digital Agenda in the German Bundestag on 17 February 2016, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, Ms. Voßhoff, confirmed once again, that both the German and European data protection authorities are still not aware of any information on a draft of a adequacy decision by the European Commission (notification of the Bundestag, German).

The German government seems to be getting impatient, as regards the precise content of the political agreement between the European Commission and the US Government. A document (pdf) from the German delegation in the Council of the European Union has now been published, which is addressed to the Presidency of the Council, in which the German delegation clarifies that “the upcoming weeks should be used for a close dialogue between the Member States, the Commission, the Article 29 Working Party and the US Government in order to achieve a legal framework that meets the conditions set out by the European Court of Justice”.

In its letter to the Presidency, the German delegation also invites the European Commission to provide the Member States in the Council with the details of the agreement with the American government and it shall provide all relevant documents to the Council. This would enable the Member States to assess the outcomes of the agreement and to enter into a close dialogue with all parties involved.

In the document, the Presidency also announces that this issue will be treated under Any Other Business at the meeting of the Competitiveness Council on 29 February 2016.