On January 7, 2016, the European Data Protection Supervisor (the “EDPS”) published his Priorities for 2016. The EDPS Priorities consists of a cover note listing the strategic priorities of the EDPS in 2016 and a color-coded table listing the European Commission’s proposals that require the EDPS’ attention, per level of priority.

In line with the EDPS Strategy 2015-2019 unveiled in March 2015, the EDPS will set his focus on the following areas of strategic importance:

Complete the Data Protection Framework

While an agreement has been reached on the data protection reform “package,” entailing the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”) and the Directive for data protection in the police and justice sectors, the EDPS will continue to support European institutions in their process to create a coherent data protection framework in Europe.

To that end, the EDPS will advise the European Commission in the revision of Regulation 45/2001 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by community institutions and on the free movement of such data, and will ensure that the principles established by the GDPR apply to EU institutions and bodies.

In addition, the EDPS will participate in the review of Directive 2002/58/EC on the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector, also known as the e-Privacy Directive.

Ensure Adequate Protection of Personal Data in International Data Transfers

Following the latest developments that have affected the transfer of personal data from the European Union to the United States, and in particular, the invalidation of the Safe Harbor framework by the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EDPS will focus on the EU-U.S. transatlantic dialogue and the need for a new legal framework for cross-border data flows. To that end, the EDPS will provide comments on the European Commission’s upcoming decision for a new arrangement for the transfer of personal data to the U.S. and on the European Commission’s decision regarding the powers of local data protection authorities with respect to existing adequacy decisions.

Further, the EDPS will also follow closely the negotiations on passenger name records agreements with third countries and the negotiations for a draft agreement between the U.S. government and the European Commission on the protection of personal information relating to the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offenses, known as the Umbrella Agreement.

Protect EU Borders and Enhance Security

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, the EDPS recalls the importance to find a balance between measures taken in reaction to these attacks and the respect of fundamental rights and liberties.

In this context, the focus will be put on measures to strengthen controls of external borders and in particular, measures that are aimed at (1) upgrading the border control systems for the Schengen Member States, (2) implementing systematic registration and security checks of third-country nationals illegally entering the Schengen area, (3) revising the Schengen Borders Code with respect to systematic controls of EU nationals, and (4) updating the Council Regulation No. 2007/2004 establishing a European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union

Initiatives Related to the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2016

The EDPS also will focus on several topics that have been identified by the Commission Work Programme as objectives for 2016, including the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy and embedding data protection in international agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Read the EDPS’s press release.