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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 28 January 2014

Data Protection Day 2014: Vice-President Reding calls for a new data protection compact for Europe

Two years after the European Commission proposed a major reform of the EU’s data protection rules to make them fit for the 21st century (IP/12/46), considerable progress has been made (MEMO/14/60 from 27 January). In October 2013, the European Parliament's leading Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) voted by a large majority to back the Commission’s proposals (MEMO/13/923). Ministers in the Justice Council have meanwhile held numerous discussions on the proposals but not yet agreed on a mandate to start negotiations with the European Parliament. Today, on European Data Protection Day, Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner in a speech at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) called for a "Data Protection Compact for Europe" (SPEECH/14/62). European Commission experts will answer questions about data protection in a live Twitter chat from 12.00 to 13.30 CET. Join the chat using the #EUdataP and #EUchat hashtags.

“We need to get serious on data protection. The European Parliament understood and its LIBE committee voted in October for a strong Regulation, with credible sanctions to ensure European rules are respected. Last week in Athens, the three institutions – the European Commission, the two European Parliament rapporteurs and the Greek and incoming Italian Presidencies of the EU – agreed on a roadmap to get the data protection reform agreed before the end of this year. Considering that the 1995 Data Protection Directive took five years to negotiate, this is a rather good result. This is also in line with the conclusions reached by Heads of State and Government at their October European Summit at which they agreed that the data protection Regulation should be in place in all Member States by latest 2015," said Vice-President in her speech when commenting on the speed of the negotiations.

She also said: "If the EU wants to be credible in its efforts to rebuild trust, if it wants to act as an example for other continents, it also has to get its own house in order. (…)"

According to Vice-President Reding the appropriate solution for restoring trust – in the transatlantic relations and in the way companies and governments handle citizens' data – is a Data protection Compact for Europe. It should be based on eight principles:

  • "We need the Data Protection Reform in the statute book. I wish to see full speed on data protection in 2014."

  • "The reform should not distinguish between the private and the public sector. Citizens would simply not understand a split in times when the public sector collects, collates and sometimes even sells personal data. It is also a very difficult distinction to draw when a local authority can buy storage space on a private cloud."

  • "Laws setting out data protection rules or affecting privacy require public debate because they relate to civil liberties online."

  • "Data collection should be targeted and limited to what is proportionate to the objectives that have been set. Blanket surveillance of electronic communications data is not acceptable."

  • "Laws need to be clear and laws need to be kept up to date. It cannot be that States rely on outdated rules, drafted in a different technological age, to frame modern surveillance programmes."

  • "National security should be invoked sparingly. It should be the exception, rather than the rule."

  • "Without a role for judicial authorities, there can be no real oversight. Executive oversight is good. Parliamentary oversight is necessary. Judicial oversight is key."

  • "A message to our American friends. Data Protection rules should apply irrespective of the nationality of the person concerned. Applying different standards to nationals and non-nationals makes no sense in view of the open nature of the internet."


Data is the currency of the digital age. Data is used by all businesses – from insurance firms and banks to social media sites and search engines. In a globalised world, the transfer of data to third countries has become an important factor in daily life. There are no borders online and cloud computing means data might be sent from Berlin to be processed in Boston and stored in Bangalore.

To flourish, the digital economy needs trust. At the same time, with surveillance revelations making the headlines almost on a daily basis, many people are not confident about giving out their personal data. 92% of Europeans are concerned about mobile apps collecting their data without their consent. And 89% of people say they want to know when the data on their smartphone is being shared with a third party. Strong, reliable, consistently applied rules will make data processing safer, cheaper and strengthen people’s confidence. Confidence in turn drives growth. Some estimates show that EU Gross Domestic Product could grow by a further 4% by 2020 if the EU takes the necessary steps to create a modern digital single market.

On 25 January 2012 the European Commission proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU's 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe's digital economy. For an overview of where we stand two years after the Commission has tabled its proposal, see MEMO/14/60 which also gives details the benefits of the reform for consumers and business.

For more information

MEMO/14/60 from 27 January ahead of Data Protection Day

Reding speech at CEPS: SPEECH/14/62

Press pack: data protection reform:

European Commission – data protection:

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

Justice Directorate General Newsroom:

Follow the Vice-President on Twitter:@VivianeRedingEU

Follow EU Justice on Twitter: @EU_Justice

Contacts :

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

Natasha Bertaud (+32 2 296 74 56)

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