How will the European elections affect Business? Fortunately here at KMB we work closely with the Direct Marketing association DMA. Our Managing Director Jacqui Crawley sits on the Council so we thought we would share their thoughts and the information they have gathered regarding the 2014 European elections and how it will affect your business and the EU data protection Regulation.
The DMA predicts that implementation of the EU Data Protection Regulation (DPR) will now be most likely delayed until 2017 following the results of the May European elections.
The DMA believes that a number of uncertainties surrounding the election’s immediate impact means that the new European parliament will not be able to pass the DPR until 2015 at the very earliest. It takes two years for an EU regulation to be implemented into law.
The composition of the key committees will now change to reflect the make-up of the new Parliament. The new Parliament now has to reappoint all its committees and chairmanships, weighted by political strength represented, and will also be involved in hearings on new commissioners. This will take time.
Most notably, Commissioner Viviane Reding, who has been the architect of the DPR, has been elected as an MEP. This means Reding may need to resign from her current role as early as June in order to be sworn into parliament.
The previous parliament voted in February to amend the European Commission’s text, fulfilling their part of the legislative equation. This remains their preferred position – there is a possibility that a new parliament could opt to reopen discussions but it would be unlikely to be a priority.
Three major reasons why 2017 will be the most likely date of implementation
But there are even greater potential obstacles that the DPR faces before it’s passed by the European parliament.
1. European Commission: a new Justice Commissioner on the cards
Viviane Reding, the Justice Commissioner, has now been elected as an MEP. This means she now has to stand down from her post. All terms of office for European commissioners come to an end in November. The Heads of State and Government will nominate the new European Commissioners and decide on which portfolios they will hold later in the year. Whoever is chosen as the new Justice Commissioner will no doubt find the draft Data Protection Regulation at the top of their in-tray. Viviane Reding focused her energies on the draft Data Protection Regulation. It will be very interesting to see whether the new Justice Commissioner gives the draft DPR the same high priority.
2. Justice and Home Affairs Ministers: slow progress under the Greek Presidency
The Justice and Home Affairs Ministers are under increasing pressure to reach agreement on the draft Regulation so three-way negotiations (trilogue) between the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, the European Commission and the European Parliament can begin to agree a final version of the text. However, at the moment they seem to be sticking to their plan to ensure that Europe ends up with a quality text rather than a rushed text which businesses and consumers may well regret in the future.
Work on the draft Regulation under the Greek Presidency, which comes to an end on 30 June, has been slow. The last key meeting in the Greek Presidency is a ministerial level meeting at the start of June where, the DMA has learnt, ministers could reach partial agreement on the section of the draft Regulation dealing with the rules on the international transfer of personal information.
This will allow the Ministers to re-open discussions on this section of the draft Regulation if they want to when they consider later sections. Crucially, the partial agreement will not lead to the opening of three-way negotiations.
The Italians take over the Presidency in July and will be in charge of discussions on the draft Regulation until December this year but will not be seeking a mandate from the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers to begin the three-way negotiations.
3. European Parliament: waiting game as new Parliament prepares to choose its President
MEPs voted to adopt the less business-friendly version of the Regulation at the First Reading of the draft Regulation in March, before the Parliament was dissolved for the European Elections. There is a small chance that the new European Parliament could re-open its consideration of the draft Regulation. It all depends on what the new President (the equivalent of the Speaker in the House of Commons) and Vice-Presidents (Deputy Speakers) decide.
The composition of the newly elected European Parliament with a large bloc of anti-establishment parties from both the right and left of the political spectrum could have an impact on the three-way negotiations. This is because it will be the new Parliament who will elect MEPS to take part in the three-way negotiations.
James Milligan, Solicitor, DMA