On 5 and 6 December in Brussels, the justice and interior ministers of the EU held a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council. Perhaps the most important issue on the agenda was the proposed Data Protection Regulation. The ministers reached an agreement on a partial general approach, that is an informal mandate for further negotiations with the MEPs. This agreement concerns the use of personal data by the public sector and the so-called specific data processing situations. Most importantly, the majority of the Council in principle supported the Italian Presidency´s compromise text concerning the “one-stop-shop” mechanism, although more technical work will need to be done on this point. The “one-stop-shop” mechanism would allow transnational companies to pursue their operations in more Member States based on data protection decisions issued by the regulator in the Member State where they have their HQ. This would de facto mean a harmonization of data protection decisions. It is a very sensitive issue, since no country likes losing part of the control in this area. Nevertheless, this partial harmonization would radically decrease costs of the companies – they would only need to deal with one data protection authority, instead of 28. In case other Member State did not like decisions issued by the regulator, the European Data Protection Board would step in and function as an arbiter with the power to issue the final, legally binding decision. One of the concerns some ministers expressed, and which further work by the current and next presidencies will be focused upon, is the distance of the data protection authority effectively issuing the decisions and the consumer.
The ministers discussed also other issues – they approved the political agreement reached with the MEPs on the new transnational insolvency proceedings rules, general approaches on two new legislative acts concerning presumption of innocence and payment orders, the European Public Prosecutor´s Office was also on the agenda and last but not least, the ministers discussed anti-terrorism measures in relation with the returning foreign fighters.
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