EU and U.S. Agree in Principle on New Trans-Atlantic Data-Transfer Agreement

By Cameron Abbott and Melanie Long

On 26 October 2015, European Commissioner Vera Jourová, announced that the European Union had agreed in principle with the US on a new trans-Atlantic data-transfer agreement. Commissioner Jourová made the announcement in a speech, before the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, which addressed the recent judgment of the European Court of Justice that invalidated the safe harbour scheme between the two countries (Schemes decision). Commissioner Jourvá said, “there is agreement…in principle, but we are still discussing how to ensure that these commitments are binding enough to fully meet the requirements of the Court.” She also added that she expected both sides to make progress on the remaining technical points of discussion by mid-November, when she is scheduled to visit the US. The European Commission is also planning on issuing an explanatory Communication on the consequences of the Schemes decision so that businesses and industry have ‘clear explanations and a uniform interpretation of the ruling.’ The European Commission are also working towards a pending deadline set by European data protection authorities who have said that if, by the end of January 2016, no appropriate solution is found with the U.S. authorities, they will take all necessary and appropriate steps (including enforcement action) to enable data transfers to the U.S. that respect fundamental rights.

The European Commission’s press release can be found here.

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