The EC has been negotiating the framework for commercial data transfers with the US for several years, the process being speeded after the Schrems judgment of the EU Court of Justice. It is nearing completion - the EC plans to adopt the so-called adequacy decision by this summer. The European Parliament debated the issue during the mini-plenary on Wednesday and adopted on Thursday a non-binding resolution. Adequacy decisions are the competence of the European Commission (EU has such frameworks in place for Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Argentina and several others). However, the European Parliament seeks to exercise political pressure. In line with the objections voiced by the data protection authorities of the Member States in the recent months, the MEPs also voiced concerns about some aspects of the Privacy Shield. Mainly, the possibility for bulk data collection by US national security agencies goes beyond the proportionality and necessity required by EU legislation in the MEPs´ view. Also, the redress mechanism although theoretically in place, is too complicated for consumers. The Commission promised to address all concerns before adopting the adequacy decision.
As the Council Presidency representative stated during the debate, Privacy Shield is not the only ongoing data transfers negotiation. Privacy Shield concerns commercial purposes. But the EU and the US have recently finalized the so-called Umbrella Agreement on data transfers for law enforcement purposes. This agreement should be signed on 2 June and then the Council will formally need to seek the consent of the MEPs before ratifying it. The role of the EP in this case is therefore more than political. To clarify the issue, the Council representative stressed that the Umbrella Agreement will not authorize new data transfers, rather it will include strict data protection provisions for existing EU-US data transfers agreements for law enforcement purposes.
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6th October 2021
9th July 2021