The implementation date for the new EU data protection rules has been plunged into confusion with David Cameron claiming victory in delaying the laws while some Brussels officials claim they are still on course.
Lawmakers in the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee (Libe) last week voted unanimously to wave through the reforms, including bigger fines for law-breakers and dedicated data protection officers.
Early drafts of the European Council conclusions called for the reforms to be completed by “spring 2014”.
That was later changed to “during 2014”, an amendment that was strongly criticised by the Commission. A senior EU official said before the summit that the EC hoped the wording would change back to “next spring”, rather than “next year” to give more impetus to the proposal.
However, the final conclusions have now been amended to read “by 2015”. French President François Hollande interpreted that to mean the beginning of that year, although EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding insists it will still be passed before the next election in May 2014.
The French President put a positive spin on the delay, claiming that some countries had been calling for the regulation to be introduced “as soon as possible”. Since this was meaningless, he said, it was better to have a firm date than none.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged she had supported the delay, although she distanced herself from the UK position.
Merkel said: “The UK wanted to delay the Data Protection Regulation because they feel that it may harm the interests of business. Germany had reservations on not moving too quickly to ensure that it can reconcile the existing rights of its citizens.”
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