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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Vice-President Reding visits United States, calls for strong data protection rules to restore trust


Vice-President Reding was in Washington and New Haven on 29 and 30 of October, where, in the wake of further US-spying revelations, she delivered two key speeches on the topics of data protection and the transatlantic partnership between the EU and the US.

In a speech at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Vice-President Reding addressed the subject of the recent US-spying revelations, making clear that "Friends and partners do not spy on each other. For ambitious and complex negotiations to succeed there needs to be trust among the negotiating partners. [I]t is urgent and essential that our [US] partners take clear action to rebuild trust."

Vice-President Reding welcomed the fact that the European Commission's data protection reform proposals have triggered a debate on privacy in the US, stating: "Once a single, coherent set of rules is in place in Europe, we will expect the same from the US. This is a necessity in order to create a stable basis for personal data flows between the EU and the US. Inter-operability and self-regulation is not enough. The existing scheme has been criticised by European industry and questioned by European citizens: they say it is little more than a patch providing a veil of legitimacy for the US firms using it." She also called on the US to include a legal provision on judicial redress for EU citizens, regardless of their residence, in the forthcoming US Privacy Act.

In a second speech delivered at Yale University, Vice-President Reding underscored the benefits of an EU-US trade agreement, outlining three main reasons for the negotiations to move forward: "First, we need to generate new growth in our economies – and in particular growth that does not require the use of public money. Second, we need to get rid of unnecessary barriers which still stand between us - and often for no good reason. And third, we need to set standards for global trade."

The Vice-President went on to trace her vision for a future United States of Europe, specifying: "Perhaps one day in the future we will need a directly elected President of the European Commission. The Presidential election campaign in the USA has shown us what a mobilising effect such a decision about a single person can have for a whole continent. (…) What we certainly need is a European Finance Minister. One person who protects the interests of all Member States and speaks for them in international institutions. Like (…) the U.S. Finance Minister. He is responsible for the federal budget and the interest of the US as a whole – not for the finances of Ohio."