Road to Brexit: the UK seeks early agreement on Data Privacy with the EU


British and European flags in front of the Berlaymont building (Copyright European Union, 2016 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service/ Photo: Lieven Creemers).

Last Thursday, the Government of the United Kingdom openly said it wants to co-operate with the European Union over data protection, in a bid to ensure the free flow of data across borders after it leaves. Despite the complete departure of Britain from the bloc will only happen in two years time, the Government has issued an official policy paper, entitled “The exchange and protection of personal data”, with the open ambition to secure an early data-sharing partnership with Europe – and protect the digital economy – once Brexit comes into effect.

Background

The flow of personal data and, more in general, data protection of individuals in the European Union is currently regulated by the Data protection directive (officially Directive 95/46/EC), from 1995. The European Commission and the Council of the European Union now intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all citizens in the European Union by implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – (Regulation (EU) 2016/679). The GDPR was adopted by the EU28 on April 27, 2016 and it will come into force from the 25th of May 2018, after a two-year transition period.

The GDPR does not require any enabling legislation to be passed by national governments and so it will automatically become directly binding for all Member States. Clearly, the situation will be a bit more difficult for the UK, as it will leave the European Union just one year after the regulation will come alive. Thus, Britain is now determined to move quickly to underpin its digital economy and last week the Government made clear it is open to co-operate with the EU over data protection to have its rules accepted by the bloc before Brexit will come into effect.

Official policy paper

So the UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union published an ambitious policy paper on Thursday where it underlined its “unique” status as a leading player in the e-commerce industry as a base to demand special treatment from the EU when agreeing future standards. “As the UK and the EU build a new, deep and special partnership, it is essential that we agree a UK-EU model for protecting and exchanging personal data which allows free flows of data to continue between the EU and UK”, the Government said in its paper. “This should reflect the unprecedented alignment between British and European law and recognises the high data protection standards that will be in place at the point of exit”, last Thursday’s paper also said.

Clear intentions

In essence, the document unveils No 10’s clear position that a UK-EU model for exchanging and protecting data will be crucial to maintain a “deep and special partnership”, as specified in the paper. The Government said that regulatory cooperation between the UK and the EU on a range of issues will be “essential”. “When the UK leaves the EU, it is essential that we avoid regulatory uncertainty for businesses and public authorities in the UK, EEA, and EU adequate countries who currently enjoy an ability to transfer data freely”, the paper said. Matt Hancock, the UK’s Minister for digital, said: “The paper published today sets out how we think our data relationship should continue. Our goal is to combine strong privacy rules with a relationship that allows flexibility, to give consumers and businesses certainty in their use of data”.

The EU’s role

The EU, for its part, will clearly have to consider whether the UK’s proposal meets what it considers to be adequate levels of data protection before it will seal a data-sharing deal once Brexit comes into effect. The document published last week by Britain’s Department for Exiting the EU says that the UK’s data protection law “fully implements the EU framework”, and that there will be no change “at the point of our exit from the EU”.

To date, the European Commission has granted 12 adequacy model decisions under the existing 1995 Directive, including Argentina, Canada, Israel the USA and Switzerland. “In light of the UK’s unprecedented position, the future deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU could productively build on the existing adequacy model”, said the UK’s Government in its paper last week.

Potential risks

However, the situation could be a bit more complex than this. There will be the need to have a shared policy process signed by both sides, plus the UK will risk to remain out of agreements such as the EU-US Privacy Shield once it will lose its member status. This are all things that may take a lot of time to be shaped, and may cause a few issues to the UK’s digital economy sector. The Financial Times last week quoted Tom Thackray, innovation director at the Confederation of British Industry, as saying that the document represents “a step forward”, but also that the UK’s data economy could be “at risk of isolation” in case no transition deal is agreed in time.

Big industry

Digital economy in Britain was worth 118.4 billion pounds ($151.5 billion) in 2015. The European Commission has estimated the value of the EU data economy to be worth €272 billion in 2015, or around two per cent of EU GDP. External estimates suggest that its value could rise to €643 billion by 2020, more than three per cent of GDP, while the Confederation for British Industry said Britain’s data economy it has a potential future worth of £240 billion.

Last Thursday’s paper is the latest in a series of documents set out by the UK’s Government outlining its aims in Brexit negotiations, and it came right before UK negotiators headed to Brussels for the next round of exit talks that is taking place this week.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Over 820 million people suffering from hunger; new UN report reveals stubborn realities of ‘immense’ global challenge

4 myths about manufacturing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

EU Budget 2019 deal: EP boosts support for researchers and the young

Can ECB’s €60 billion a month save Eurozone?

Russia – US in Syria: Selling Afrin to Turkey but facing off ruthlessly for Ghouta

The US is withdrawing from a 144-year-old treaty. Here’s the context

LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN: Elections serve up food for thought, for Afghan youth

Hungary has made progress on greening its economy and now needs to raise its ambitions

4 key steps towards a circular economy

Universities need strategic leadership. Here’s what it looks like

Those who produce food are among world’s hungriest – UN rights expert

This is how New York plans to end its car culture

Thursday’s Daily Brief: impact of bad working conditions, Syria and Libya humanitarian news, human rights in Bahrain, families reunified in South Sudan

A Europe that delivers: EU citizens expect more EU level action in future

Human Rights breaches in Russia, Afghanistan and Burkina Faso

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Europe’s children urge leaders to commit to climate action at UN Climate Summit in Paris

Force used against protestors in Gaza ‘wholly disproportionate’ says UN human rights chief

Human traffickers in Libya are posing as UN staff, says Refugee Agency

There are now four competing visions of the internet. How should they be governed?

New General Assembly President brings ‘valuable insights’ into key UN challenges

Will the EU reconsider Frontex’s role in light of accusations about violations of migrants’ human rights?

The EU Parliament slams Commission on economic governance

Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to put words into action

EU mobilises €21 million to support Palestine refugees via the UN Relief and Works Agency

This company lets you set your own salary

Health Education, is it a necessity?

What India’s route to universal health coverage can teach the world

World Retail Congress Dubai 2016: Retail’s night of nights

Ghana will grow faster than any other economy this year, the IMF says why

EU fight against tax-evasion and money laundering blocked by Britain

The Khashoggi affair: A global complot staged behind closed doors

Bankers don’t go to jail because they are more equal than us all

Developing countries should not be liable for emissions ‘accumulated throughout history’, key UN development forum hears

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Third review welcomes progress while identifying steps for improvement

UN chief condemns attack in south-west Iran which killed dozens

Brexit talks started with a London handicap and Brussels’ sternness

European Youth Vlog

How to keep our cities cool as temperatures rise

Why will Paris upcoming “loose” climate change agreement work better than the previous ones?

European Confederation of Junior Enterprises hosts in Geneva the Junior Enterprise World Conference

Citing public anger and youth activism, OECD Secretary-General urges governments to heed calls for climate action

The ECB again takes care of the bankers not the people

Retirees will outlive their savings by a decade

How much is nature worth? $125 trillion, according to this report

‘Complacency is still strong’ over stopping genocide, says top UN adviser

Trump aims trade offensive solely to China, renews truce with EU

AI can be a game-changer for the world’s forests. Here’s how

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

South Sudan’s women caught up in ‘futile man’s war’ UN gender equality chief

The developing countries keep the world going

EP Brexit Steering Group calls on the UK to overcome the deadlock

Bridging the gap: Health through technology

Western Sahara: a ‘peaceful solution’ to conflict is possible, says UN envoy

We can feed the world in a sustainable way, but we need to act now

Mental health and suicide prevention – what can be done to increase access to mental health services in Morocco

European Commission increases support for the EU’s beekeeping sector

Here’s how to find a job you really love

Africa must ‘value youth’ in the drive towards lasting peace, young envoy tells Security Council

Far from a healthy Health Workforce: lack of workforce planning leaves our citizens without access to proper care

EU to gain the most from the agreement with Iran

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s