Last Chance to Influence Commission on Free Flow of Data

Last Chance to Influence Commission on Free Flow of Data

Last week the European Cloud Alliance hosted a call with members to discuss the impact of the European Commission’s Communication on Building a European Data Economy. Lisa Peets, an expert on EU data policy with law firm Covington and Burling LLP, discussed the background to the Communication, how it relates to the broader Digital Single Market strategy, and the likely next steps for progression to a more seamless and barrier-free European data economy.

Ms Peets explained that while much of the focus on data flows in recent months has been on transfers of data out of Europe to third countries, the communication concerns d data being transferred across national borders within the EU.  She said that the Commission had walked back from initial plans for a regulation enforcing free flow of data, and instead has proposed launching   a stakeholder dialogue and, where appropriate, taking infringement action against Member States whose localisation requirements violate EU law.

According to Ms Peets, ensuring the data can flow freely across European borders, without unjustified restrictions, is an important part of creating a truly digital single market. Studies indicate that removing current barriers could add up to €8 billion per year to European GDP.  Given the economic stakes, localisation requirements should be the exception not the norm in order that the benefits be realised.

Ms Peets said that industry had hoped for a more robust response from the Commission, and that questions have been asked about what could be done to help support the Commission’s efforts to tackle national barriers to data flows. Ms Peets advised that the Commission has launched a further consultation– running from now until 26th April 2016 – which provides a crucial opportunity for businesses and other interested parties to provide the Commission with information highlighting the importance of free flow of data and existing obstacles to those flows.

The ECA will be writing to the European Commission to express our support for action to remove unjustified restrictions on the location on non-personal data.  We look forward to playing our part in the creation of a digital single market in Europe.

Those interested in responding directly to the consultation can do so by following this link. The Commission is interested in specific examples that illustrate how the free flow of data contributes to the growth and development of business or services in the EU. Data and examples that detail how current regulatory or policy barriers to the free movement of data have impacted businesses are especially welcome.

The European Cloud Alliance believes that the free flow of data is a key driver of growth and development in cloud-based services. We recommend that members actively participate in the consultation and provide as much data and evidence as they can to support a more robust approach to supporting data flows across borders.

Time is short – and this is the last real chance to influence this important aspect of the European Digital Single Market. Any ECA member requiring support or guidance on how to participate should contact the Secretariat.

Click here to download our free expert briefing on data flows.