If the European Justice Ministers do not reach an agreement on the data protection reform by March 2015, European Parliament rapporteur Albrecht deems it unlikely that the adoption of the new data protection rules will be concluded in the coming year. According to German MEP Albrecht, after the Council agreement the European Parliament needs at least 9 months to agree on the rules.
Swift adoption should not diminish legal certainty
Ecommerce Europe supports swift harmonization of the data protection rules, but not at any cost. As Ecommerce Europe reported earlier, Ministers are still very divided about many issues, and the goal of the incoming Latvian Presidency to reach an agreement in March seems therefore highly ambitious. Moreover, some proposals of the Justice Ministers currently under discussion are essential to crystallize perfectly to create legal certainty for online merchants in cross-border trade.
Outstanding issues for online merchants first need to be clarified
Justice Ministers are in the midst of discussions on the one stop shop principle for example, something Ecommerce Europe has long been advocating for. The one stop shop has great potential to stimulate cross-border e-commerce by creating more trust for online merchants by allowing them to deal with one pan-European authority instead of differing national authorities in case of a dispute with a consumer about data processing. Also, the Ministers are still debating about outstanding issues to define merchants’ obligations like information requirements and means of obtaining consent of the consumer.
European Commission remains optimistic
The European Commission remains keen however to swiftly conclude the negotiations and adopt the data protection rules in 2015. In a recent speech Justice Commissioner Jourová highlighted her determination to do so: “I know count on Latvia to take this forward and finalize discussions. Our aim remains to adopt the reform with the co-legislators in 2015. People who trust that their personal data is protected will buy goods and services online”. Ecommerce Europe welcomes the Commissioner’s ambitions to foster trust in the online cross-border market, but again stresses an agreement should not be rushed into. It is crucially important that the approach remains balanced as not to pose too heavy administrative burdens for the e-commerce sector.
Latvia takes over the EU Presidency on 1 January 2015, and will try to lead the discussions in the Council and reach an agreement by March. Together with other stakeholders, Ecommerce Europe remains closely involved in the discussions and will report back to its members accordingly.