Brussels, 7 March 2013
German Minister for the Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich and EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding emphasise the importance of the EU General Data Protection Regulation for the digital single market and the protection of fundamental rights in Europe
Today, at a joint working breakfast ahead of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, and, Hans-Peter Friedrich, the German Interior Minister, reaffirmed their shared objective of a reform of European data protection rules. They agreed that the new EU Data Protection Regulation needs to provide for a high level of protection: ‘Human dignity and personal liberties are our yardstick. This is why we are committed to reaffirming the high level of data protection that we have achieved in Europe since 1995. This includes the necessary modernisation of the EU data protection rules.’
Minister Friedrich and Commissioner Reding emphasised that in many respects, the high level of data protection in Germany has served as a model for European data protection rules and for the new General Data Protection Regulation. High data protection standards, as they are the law in Germany, must under no circumstances be lowered, but be preserved by the new EU Data Protection Regulation. This concerns in particular the institution of corporate data protection officers, as tried and tested in Germany. EU Justice Commissioner Reding and Minister of the Interior Friedrich are making a strong joint plea to make such corporate data protection officers compulsory across Europe. In return, red tape should be reduced. The Council of Justice Ministers on 8 March 2013 will show whether other EU Member States, which so far do not know yet the institution of a corporate data protection officer, will be prepared to support this proposal. Both politicians are optimistic.
For both politicians, the on-going reform of European data protection rules is of utmost importance for the digital single market and for the protection of fundamental rights in the European Union: ‘The EU data protection reform must reinforce data protection in the single market, both internally and externally.’, said Minister of the Interior Friedrich and EU Justice Commissioner Reding. To achieve this political goal, both are advocating in the negotiations with the European Parliament and within the Council that the Data Protection Directive of 1995 is replaced by a modern EU General Data Protection Regulation: ‘In future, companies operating on the European single market should only have to comply with one single set of EU data protection rules.’
EU Justice Commissioner Reding and Minister of the Interior Friedrich are promoting this objective since a long time: ‘Only by joining forces, we Europeans can be strong in international competition. For companies for which a global reach is part of their business model – and this is valid not only for Facebook and Google – , our European market with 500 million consumers is extremely attractive. It will be in the interests of the citizens of the European Union and of ensuring competition within the internal market that these companies can offer their products only if they comply with the EU's future uniform data protection rules."
Minister of the Interior Friedrich and EU Justice Commissioner Reding noted with satisfaction recent progress made with the EU data protection reform. Significant progress could be made during the first weeks under the Irish Presidency notably as regards the question of how EU data protection rules can be adapted to the respective risks of data processing. They both felt that it makes sense to strengthen further a risk-based approach as already foreseen in the new Regulation: ‘It is common sense that stricter, more detailed data protection rules are needed for the processing of health-related data than for data concerning simple services of a craftsmen."
Like other EU Member States, Germany has already proposed several amendments, now due to be negotiated with the Commission, the other Member States and the European Parliament. Acceptance and practicality in implementation of data protection rules are central objectives. Minister of the Interior Friedrich therefore expressed his wish for a clear framework for self-regulation procedures: ‘Co-regulation with a secure legal basis and with the involvement of data protection supervisory authorities, will give companies and consumers legal certainty. The Commission should therefore be given the possibility to make such co-regulation generally binding.’
As regards the treatment of the public sector in the data protection reform, Minister of the Interior Friedrich and EU Justice Commissioner Reding welcomed the commitment of the Irish Presidency: ‘We both agree that the new EU General Data Protection Regulation should apply to both the private and the public sector, as it has been the case already since 1995 under the existing EU Data Protection Directive. Against this background, the Irish Presidency’s Progress Report is a good basis for further negotiations. We are working together to find appropriate wording to provide, within the new EU Regulation, flexibility and room for manoeuvre for national legislators as regards the public sector without calling into question the high level of data protection that is so important to both of us.’
EU Justice Commissioner Reding and Minister of the Interior Friedrich both agreed that the new EU Data Protection Regulation opened an important new chapter for the European Union. The global reach of the internet and its increasing significance in every sphere of life represent a significant challenge for the European Union and its Member States that can only be tackled by joining forces if Europe wanted to preserve the high level of data protection to which its citizens are used.
For this reason, the two politicians confirmed their intention to strongly support the Irish Presidency in order to achieve political results as swiftly as possible.
Press pack – EU data protection reform:
European Commission – Protection of personal data:
European Parliament – Report on the Data Protection Regulation:
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU
Press Office of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior
Tel.:+49 3018681-1022/-1023 /-1089