Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very pleased to announce that this morning the European Commission has adopted the decision on the EU-US Privacy Shield, the new data protection framework for transatlantic transfers of personal data.
This brings to a close more than two and a half years of work since the Commission first raised concerns about the old "Safe Harbour" arrangement and whether it was really safe enough to protect the fundamental rights of Europeans.
The Juncker Commission was clear from the start of our mandate that the arrangement must be made safe in order to continue.
The European Court of Justice confirmed this approach when annulling the old Safe Harbour decision last October.
We have worked very hard since then with our American partners – and I would like to thank Penny for her personal commitment and dedication to this exercise – to make a fresh start and to create a new framework: the EU-US Privacy Shield.
The Privacy Shield arrangement consists of:
o Firstly, stronger data protection obligations on participating companies that will be more robustly enforced by U.S. authorities;
o Secondly, reassurance from the U.S. government that any access to personal data for law enforcement or national security purposes is limited to what is necessary and proportionate (building on the important intelligence reforms by President Obama);
o Thirdly, easier redress possibilities for Europeans in case of complaints about how their data is handled, whether it is by private companies or by the Government.
The Privacy Shield is fundamentally different from Safe Harbour, also because we will have an annual joint review, which will make it easier to solve any problems that could arise.
Since releasing the first draft of the Privacy Shield in February, we have been able to make it even better and clearer by taking on board the recommendations of Europe's independent data protection authorities, as well as the resolution of the European Parliament.
As a result, we have:
o further strengthened and clarified the role of the new Ombudsperson dealing with citizens' enquiries about possible access to data by national intelligence agencies;
o clarified better when "bulk" collection of data may occur and what distinguishes it from "mass surveillance"; and
o strengthened and clarified some of the obligations on companies, for instance the need to delete personal data that is no longer necessary for the purpose of processing.
Throughout this process, the Commission has also been in a close dialogue with business, consumer and privacy associations and of course our Member States, who have given their overwhelming support to the Privacy Shield last Friday.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield has enormous potential: By protecting fundamental rights of individuals when their personal data is transferred from Europe to the US, and by giving renewed legal certainty to companies that rely on such transfers for their work, the Privacy Shield will strengthen the transatlantic economy and reaffirm our shared values.
Our attention must now turn to getting the Privacy Shield up and running in practice. And this is what Penny and I discussed in our meeting this morning.
It's important that businesses can quickly sign up to the Privacy Shield, ending a period of uncertainty after last year's Court ruling.
And it's equally important that individuals – whether as consumers or employers – have comprehensive information about how their rights are guaranteed.
I am sure Penny will brief you on the Department of Commerce preparations on the business side.
On our side, the Commission is producing a "citizens' guide" to explain all the available redress options, and we will work closely with the data protection authorities in this regard. The data protection authorities have a key role in helping individuals to uphold their data protection rights.
And the Commission will continue to work closely together with the United States in monitoring and supporting the successful implementation of this new framework.
Penny, I would like to thank you for being with us today, both to celebrate this tremendous achievement and also to kick off the work that is ahead of us.
It is thanks to your leadership and to the hard work of the negotiators and experts on both sides that we have been able to achieve this strong result.