Major step change in EU data protection regulation

In April, the EU Parliament voted in favour of the new EU data protection regulation, bringing to a close the formal approval process between the Commission, Parliament and Council of the most significant change to data protection laws in nearly 20 years.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force from May 2018. The fact that GDPR is a regulation, not a revised Directive, is itself significant since it will be directly applicable in Member States without additional national legislation (although it is anticipated that some Member States will change their existing national laws to comply). It has taken a long time to get to this point, reflective of the degree of change GDPR will bring about and its likely impact. Employers might be forgiven for thinking that a two year run-in period from now is a long one and they can afford to postpone taking any preparatory steps. However, the scope of change for employers cannot be underestimated: organisations would be well-advised to start preparing for them now. For further information, read our briefing.

Compulsory wage rates in procurement processes: significant new EU case law

Tensions exist in EU law where procurement processes seek to impose minimum wage rates on cross-border contractors, to avoid the undercutting of local competitors and stop so-called ‘social dumping’. On the one hand, EU law protects economic freedoms giving EU businesses the right to provide services across the member states. On the other, the EU seeks to protect workers through legislation such as the Posted Workers Directive.

In RegioPost GmbH & Co KG v Stadt Landau in der Pfalz the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) considered whether it was lawful, under EU public procurement rules, for a regional authority to require prospective contractors (who could tender from across Europe) to agree to pay the minimum wage set by regional law. RegioPost refused and was excluded from the tender process. The CJEU upheld the mandatory minimum wage condition on the grounds that it was a special condition permitted under EU procurement rules i.e the protection of workers in this instance justified a restriction on the freedom to provide services. This contrasts with earlier unsuccessful CJEU case law (Ruffert) concerning the attempted imposition on cross-border contractors of pay rates derived from local collective agreements. Ruffert concerned a construction collective agreement which did not cover private contracts and had not been declared universally applicable. In contrast, the regional law in RegioPost was laid down in a legislative provision and it applied more generally, irrespective of the sector concerned.