Commission publishes guidance on upcoming new data protection rules; follows up on terrorist radicalisation and discusses situation in Turkey and Romania
New data protection rules
The Commission published today guidance to facilitate a direct and smooth application of the new data protection rules across the EU as of 25 May. The guidance outlines what the European Commission, national data protection authorities and national administrations should still do to bring the preparation to a successful completion.
On 6 April 2016, the EU agreed to a major reform of its data protection framework, by adopting the data protection reform package, comprising the General Data Protection Regulation replacing the twenty years old Directive. On 25 May 2018, the new EU-wide data protection rules will become applicable, two years after its adoption and entry into force. In the run up to 25 May, the Commission will continue to actively support Member States, Data Protection Authorities and businesses to ensure the reform is ready to enter into effect.
While the new regulation provides for a single set of rules directly applicable in all Member States, it will still require significant adjustments in certain aspects, like amending existing laws by EU governments or setting up the European Data Protection Board by data protection authorities. The guidance recalls the main innovations and opportunities opened up by the new rules, takes stock of the preparatory work already undertaken and outlines the work still ahead of the European Commission, national data protection authorities and national administrations.
The Commission is dedicating EUR 1.7 million to fund data protection authorities, but also to train data protection professionals. A further EUR 2 million is available to support national authorities in reaching out to businesses, in particular SMEs.
The Commission also launched a new practical online tool to help citizens, businesses, in particular SMEs, and other organisations to comply and benefit from the new data protection rules.
The Commission reported on progress made towards an effective and genuine Security Union, including priorities like countering radicalisation, enhancing cybersecurity and protecting public spaces. As security is identified as a key priority in the Joint Declaration on the EU's legislative priorities for 2018-19, the Commission is also setting out a number of measures to be taken over the coming months to strengthen support to Member States and speed up EU work.
In its interim report, the High-Level Expert Group on Radicalisation – set up by the Commission in July 2017 – called for more systematic exchanges on anti-radicalisation between Member States, practitioners and researchers as well as stronger EU support. As a first step to follow up on these recommendations, the Commission will strengthen the coordination at EU level to prevent terrorism and the action against radicalisation in prisons, and against terrorist propaganda both online and offline. The Commission is urging online platforms to speed up their efforts to remove online terrorist content as quickly as possible, and is looking into more specific steps to improve the response to terrorist content online, before deciding whether legislation is needed.
As regards the protection of public spaces, cooperation is being intensified between private operators of public spaces, such as transport hubs, stadiums and shopping centres, and local and regional authorities.
Today's report also took stock of the progress made in the implementation of other priority files under the European Agenda for Security including information exchange, terrorist financing, security research and aviation security, as well as the external dimension.
The Commission adopted a decision to transfer the back-up site of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre from the United Kingdom to Spain. The Galileo Security Monitoring Centre is a technical infrastructure which plays a key role in ensuring the security of the EU's satellite navigation programme Galileo, including its Public Regulated Service.The Galileo Security Monitoring Centre has its main and operational location in France and its back-up site in the United Kingdom (Swanwick). As a consequence of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU, the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre's back-up site needs to be relocated from the United Kingdom to one of the 27 EU Member States.
Situation in Turkey
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn debriefed the College about the European Union’s current relations with Turkey, in the context of a dense agenda in the coming weeks and months as well as the latest regional developments. The College also held a preliminary discussion on how to continue support to refugees in Turkey in line with the EU-Turkey statement.
Through the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey €3 billion were contracted, out of which €1.85 billion was already paid for 72 projects, with the rest of the funds to be disbursed by the end of the year, in view of the implementation of Facility projects through to mid-2021. The College reiterated its earlier commitment to proceed with the second tranche under the same conditions as the first one.
As part of the forthcoming agenda for EU-Turkey relations, a number of high level contacts is foreseen, among them a possible EU-Turkey high-level Meeting later this spring. The College today confirmed the principle of this meeting.
Situation in Romania
The College discussed the latest developments in Romania. In a joint statement, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and First Vice-President Frans Timmermans expressed concerns with regards to the latest developments in Romania regarding the independence of Romania's judicial system and its capacity to fight corruption. The Commission called on the Romanian Parliament to rethink the course of action proposed, to open up the debate in line with the Commission's recommendations and to build a broad consensus on the way forward. The Commission reiterated its readiness to cooperate with and support the Romanian authorities in this process. The Commission again warned against backtracking and will look thoroughly at the final amendments to the justice law, the criminal codes and laws on conflict of interest and corruption to determine the impact on efforts to safeguard the independence of the judiciary and combat corruption.
Finally, the Commission has fined Qualcomm €997m for abusing its market dominance in 4G Long-Term Evolution baseband chipsets. Baseband chipsets enable smartphones and tablets to connect to cellular networks and are used both for voice and data transmission. Qualcomm prevented rivals from competing in the market by making significant payments to a key customer on condition it would not buy from rivals. This practice is illegal under EU antitrust rules.
Factsheet: Security Union - a Europe that protects
24 January 2018