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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Viviane Reding defends strong data protection rules at Justice Council

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Today's Justice Council saw solid progress on data protection law, access to a lawyer, and fighting fraud against the EU budget, among other issues. Vice-President Viviane Reding represented the Commission at the meeting in Luxembourg.

On data protection law, a majority of Ministers supported a consolidated version of parts I-IV of the draft Data Protection Regulation proposed by the Commission in January 2012. These important chapters deal with the core issues of the reform, including individuals' rights and companies' obligations.

Vice-President Reding said at the Council: "If Europe wants to respond to today's challenges, then we need to be ambitious. Despite the data protection sprint we have seen under the Irish presidency, we have not yet reached the finish line. The ball is now in two courts. The ball is in Member States' court to continue progress in the Council, and the ball is the European Parliament's court, to reach its own position on the proposals. They will need to move up a gear if they want this reform to happen sooner rather than later. The clock is ticking for international competitiveness."

The Irish Presidency also presented the agreement reached between the Commission, the Parliament, and the Council on a new Directive on the right to access a lawyer. The Commission's proposal guarantees citizens’ rights both to access a lawyer and on to communicate with their family upon arrest.

Meanwhile, the Council is also agreed on a general approach to fight fraud against the EU budget by means of criminal law to better safeguard taxpayers' money. This is based on a proposal made by the Commission in July 2011.

Other topics on the Council agenda included cross-border debt recovery, insolvency and simplifying the acceptance of certain public documents.