The Data Protection Regulation is potentially back on track after a major roadblock was resolved.
Germany is reported to have agreed to ensure its rules relating to access to public sector information are compatible with the new Data Protection Regulation. Previously, Germany had sought a complete exemption from the Regulation for the public sector. However, at a recent meeting of EU ministers in Cyprus, Germany withdrew these objections provided that it was given flexibility in how to apply the rules. This flexibility will also apply to all other Member States, so this concession is likely to reduce the level of harmonisation in relation to public sector data across Europe.
But the road ahead for the Regulation is still not clear. Many Member States still have significant objections. A leaked document from the Council of the European Union, published recently by civil liberties group Statewatch, makes clear the extent of these concerns and shows there is significant work to do before all Member States are on board. It also shows a near universal concern is the extent of the application of burdensome rules to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). This demonstrates that effective lobbying by business bodies such as the CBI and various e-business bodies have been partially successful. As SMEs are seen as the engine of growth by governments, their opinions are clearly influential in these recessionary times.
So the new Regulation may be back on track. But given that Belgium and the UK have also suggested the Regulation should actually be a Directive – rather a fundamental point – you could be forgiven for thinking the opposite.