Written by Susan Foster, Solicitor England & Wales/Admitted in California
(LONDON) The European Commission announced yesterday that it is working towards a revised timeline for the adoption of a definitive Data Protection Regulation by the end of 2014.
While Commissioner Viviane Reding’s press release about finalizing the Regulation by the end of 2014 has been reported by some as a new deadline, it is really more of an aspirational date. In fact, the “new deadline” is consistent with comments made by the Commission at the end of 2013. So it’s not really news, but the Commissioner’s comments are certainly worth reading as a summary of where we are with this critical legislation from the Commission’s perspective. In Commissioner Reding’s own words, “[a]n agreement on the reform is possible before the end of this year.”
What might make Dec. 31, 2014 a difficult date to achieve? Certainly the Commission and the European Parliament are keen to expedite adoption of the Regulation, and the difference in their views are relatively minor in the “big picture” sense. However, the Council of the EU (the forum for the views of the national governments of the Member States) still needs to weigh in on the Parliament’s version of the draft Regulation.
Interestingly, Commissioner Reding’s press release was silent concerning the Council’s retraction last December of its support for the crucial “one-stop shop” that would give companies one regulator to deal with rather than 28 – although she did link to her December 6, 2013 speech chiding the Council for backsliding on the one-stop shop. This is just one of several important issues that need to be resolved, and the complexity of the EU legislative process will make it a challenge to tie off all of the major issues and relatively minor loose ends by the end of 2014. That said, we should see a huge push from the Commission and Parliament to make headway in the coming months – so this is a critical time for the national governments of the Member States, businesses and individuals to engage with the ongoing debates over privacy regulation in Europe.