EU Data Protection Reform Update

by Morgan Lewis

EC Commissioner Oettinger makes noteworthy comments during a conference in Munich regarding the pending EU Data Protection Reform.


In 2012, the European Commission (EC) proposed a major reform to the European Union’s (EU’s) legal framework regarding the protection of personal data. This reform would expand the reach of the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive (the Directive) and harmonize the Member States’ often inconsistent implementation of the Directive. Although the stated goal of the reforms is to strengthen individual rights and address the challenges of globalization and new technologies to lessen the administrative burdens of compliance for companies, if adopted, these reforms will also change the landscape for U.S. companies that do business in Europe. Among the most significant, the proposed reforms would

  • Expand EU jurisdiction over U.S. companies—even those that don’t have branches, offices, or facilities in the EU.
  • Impose higher penalties for violations of EU data protection laws (the current proposal fines up to 5% of global revenue for a company).
  • Contain new EU-wide rules on data security breaches and how to deal with them.
  • Increase notification requirements for international data transfers, such as for U.S. litigations and investigations.

During a recent conference in Munich, EC Commissioner Günther Oettinger discussed his vision of the Directive and the potential impact of the proposed reforms. He said that, by the end of 2015, the EC intends to submit a proposal for a common European Data Protection Directive that addresses the need for secure “European cloud” data storage. By May 2015, the EC is also expected to publish its strategy for the digital sector. Mr. Oettinger pointed out that, currently, the Member States, with their 510 million people, have one market for such things as food, Bordeaux, and cars but face a fragmented market for digital products and services. Twenty-eight distinct regulations, data protection rules, and regulators exist in the name of implementing the Directive. Mr. Oettinger acknowledged that fragmented implementation does not create a favorable environment for start-ups and investors in the IT sector.


Mr. Oettinger’s remarks can be evaluated in light of the ongoing debate as follows:

  • If a final EC proposal is not ready any time soon, a final decision on the EU data protection reform in 2015 is not very likely. Jan Philip Albrecht, data protection rapporteur at the European Parliament on the EU reform package, is optimistic about the EU Council reaching its negotiating position this summer and reaching a final decision by the end of 2015.
  • The reform may be further delayed by the growing debate about whether the EU should institute EU-wide mandatory traffic data retention to assist with antiterrorism efforts. Data traffic retention could clash with some provisions of the proposed reforms (e.g., data deletion requirements, reimbursement of the providers, and preventing data access by the U.S. National Security Agency).
  • Mr. Oettinger prefers that the Directive be a legal tool for the reform instead of a directly enforceable EU regulation. This could mean further delays before the new rules are implemented in the EU Member States, and national regulators could proceed with individual enforcement that goes beyond the reform package.
  • Mr. Oettinger favors the “one-stop shop” concept, whereby a provider is regulated by one data protection agency (DPA) only while doing business throughout the entire EU. Although the concept helps U.S. companies avoid unnecessary bureaucracy, this remains a highly contested provision of the proposed reforms. The main issue of contention is how the lead DPA would interact with the DPAs in other Member States and handle EU customer complaints.
  • Other EC commissioners, such as Vĕra Jourová, the new commissioner in charge of Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, may try to gain some profile by modifying Mr. Oettinger’s proposals or by promoting her own plans.

In sum, it appears that Mr. Oettinger is realistic about the challenges that the EU faces in implementing data protection reform and is open to industry suggestions for the privacy sector, particularly in areas where Europe is strong, such as the car industry, health, and digital infrastructure.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Morgan Lewis | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Morgan Lewis

Morgan Lewis on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.