15th April 2016

EP plenary passes highly-awaited legislation

At its plenary in Strasbourg last week (11-14 April), the European Parliament passed some of the long-awaited pieces of legislation. Firstly, after 4 years of negotiations the MEPs overwhelmingly approved the data protection reform (the directly applicable data protection regulation and a directive on enforcement). The EP adopted the texts at second reading, accepting the version passed by the Council recently (which itself was a compromise negotiated with the MEPs). Once the legal acts are signed and published in the Official Journal, they will enter into force. The regulation will become applicable on the 20th day afterwards, the directive will need to be implemented into national legislations within 2 years.

The MEPs also finally approved the Passenger Name Records directive. Member States will be able to collect, use and exchange data on passengers of all flights to/from the EU and possibly also of intra-EU flights. This should significantly increase the tools police forces have to tackle terrorism. The legislation was passed after 3 recent terrorist attacks in Europe, following an informal deal with the Council on data protection issues. This was the EP´s adoption at first reading. Once the Council passes the directive, the directive will entry into force and Member States will have a period of maximum 2 years to transpose it into national legislations.

Thirdly, the EP adopted new EU rules on the protection of trade secrets. The new directive introduces an EU-wide definition of a trade secret and requires Member States to ensure that businesses are able to protect their trade secrets before a court if stolen or misused. The text also includes safeguards against abuse of the trade secret concept – investigative journalists and whistle-blowers will have enhanced protection. The EP adopted its position at first reading following an informal deal with the Council. Once the Council formally approves the text, the directive will enter into force and will need to be transposed into national legislations.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic