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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Speaking points by European Commission Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, at the press conference on the new framework for transatlantic data flows: the EU-US Privacy Shield

Strasbourg, 2 February 2016

I have been very clear from the start of this mandate: we want to be sure that when Europeans personal data is sent to the US, the data continues to be protected. Secure and open exchange of data is very important in our digital world.

We have agreed with our US partners a new framework that will ensure the right checks and balances for our citizens.

Commissioner Jourova, Vera, and her team have negotiated a mechanism which is robust and offers significant improvements compared to the previous scheme. The College gave today its green light to put in place this new deal.

On the main point of the Court's criticism towards the Safe Harbour, on the access to Europeans' personal data by US intelligence services, we have for the first time received detailed written assurances from the US on the safeguards and limitations applicable to US surveillance programs.

The US side has clarified that they do not carry out indiscriminate mass surveillance of Europeans. The US has undergone a substantial internal review as regards its national intelligence activities. This was part of President Obama's speech in January 2014 and has now been reflected in the specific assurances we have received from the US on transatlantic data flows.

As a specific commitment under the new arrangement, the US will create the role of a special 'Ombudsperson' within the US State Department, who would follow-up complaints and enquiries by individuals on national security access, upon referral by EU data protection authorities.

On the commercial side we have obtained strong oversight by the US Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission of companies' compliance with their obligations to protect EU personal data.

We agreed that we will have an annual joint review which would give an opportunity to assess the situation, including its national security exemption.

EU and US are the closest allies. On a topic as important as this, we have to find common solutions. I believe that this new arrangement as negotiated between our teams is what Europe needs. Both our citizens and our businesses will benefit from this.

Vera will now inform you of the latest state of play and the next steps.


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General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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