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.

the sting Milestones

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

An astronaut’s eye view: Life inside the International Space Station

If you want to make progress on all the major global challenges, start with water

“Health and environment first of all”, EU says with forced optimism after 7th round of TTIP talks

Syrians ‘exposed to brutality every day’ as thousands continue fleeing ISIL’s last stand

UN human rights chief denounces grave ‘assaults’ on fundamental rights of Palestinian people

More than 1 in 6 young adults in the EU were not in education or work in 2020

GSMA Reveals Shortlist For 2019 Asia Mobile Awards

Data governance: new rules to boost data sharing across the EU

Climate change is threatening Switzerland’s stunning scenery

Financing the 2030 Agenda: What is it and why is it important?

Simpler EU energy labels for lighting products applicable from 1 September

MEPs agree on future regional and cohesion funding

What happens when you toss your water bottle in the trash?

EU foreign investment screening mechanism becomes fully operational

We can end TB right now. Here’s how

Let the Italians have it their way, it may be good for all Eurozone

Mobile 360 Africa 11-13 July 2017

UN chief calls for ‘far greater support’ for Cyclone Idai response

Balancing The Broken See-Saw of Gender Power Dynamics as a Medical Student

Using the quarantine to your advantage

How bad could British healthcare get for its citizens abroad post-Brexit?

Deutsche Bank: the next financial crisis is here and the lenders need €150 billion from taxpayers

The banks first to benefit from the new euro trillion ECB plans to print

17 innovations accelerating the transition to a circular economy

The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) on the arrest of Turkish Medical Association leaders

The European Union provides additional €17.2 million to support health systems in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan

Bangladesh: Head of UN refugee agency calls on Asia-Pacific leaders to show ‘solidarity’ with Rohingya refugees

Can we crack the hydrogen puzzle this time around?

BRICS’ New Development Bank turns four: what has it achieved?

UN says ‘many humanitarian achievements’, one year after ouster of ISIL from Mosul

Finnish Prime Minister calls for a more united EU of concrete actions

Russia: EU Presidents condemn Russian sanctions against EU nationals

Eurozone cannot endure any longer youth marginalisation

Europe faces economic turmoil as Italy gets closer to the Excessive Debt Procedure

Mental Health in times of a pandemic: what can each individual do to lessen the burden?

Monday’s Daily Brief: #ClimateAction for the Pacific, Gaza blockade, attack in Burkina Faso

Beyond representation: appreciation and recognition of women in medicine

COVID-19: Why we must take the widescreen view of workforce uncertainty

“Only through energy policy we can trigger competitiveness”. The Sting live from #EBS2015: Energy Union – When will it happen?

Why women have an essential role in biodiversity conservation

FROM THE FIELD: Hardy seeds bear fruit to protect Colombia’s environment

Here’s how governments can mobilize technology for the SDGs

EU-US relations on the dawn of the Trump era

Afghanistan: lead MEPs demand safe departure of EU nationals and Afghan partners and urgent tackling of humanitarian crisis

Antitrust: Commission accepts commitments by Transgaz to facilitate natural gas exports from Romania

The financial crisis always prefers the south of Eurozone

Top UN court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya from genocide

Despite funding crisis, Palestine refugee classrooms set to stay open, says UNRWA

Writing a greener story in Asia and the Pacific amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Palliative Care: the guarantee of a Human Right

Respond to ‘legitimate grievances’ of Sudanese people, UN human rights experts urge, following protests

Recovery and Resilience Facility: Romania submits official recovery and resilience plan

Baking The Galette-des-rois Of Egalitarianism

Cutting CO2 emissions from trucks: MEPs reach deal with Council

EU will not deliver on promises without democratic accountability

ESCALAR: up to €1.2 billion to help high potential companies grow and expand in Europe

1st Exclusive High Level Dialogue: China-EU Cybersecurity and 5G Cooperation

What the next 20 years will mean for jobs – and how to prepare

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

%d bloggers like this: