EU justice ministers are expected to agree on a common position on the data protection directive at the Justice and Home Affairs Council tomorrow (Friday). Commenting on the expected agreement, Green home affairs spokesperson Jan Philipp Albrecht, who is the European Parliament's rapporteur/draftsperson on the draft data protection regulation (which is the other legislative file in the reform of the EU's data protection rules) said:
"The common position expected to be agreed by justice ministers tomorrow is disappointing and would deliver almost no improvements on the current legal situation. EU governments are only willing to make vague commitments as regards the data protection rights of those affected. The ministers are looking to introduce numerous exemptions as regards the right to information. Worryingly, police and justice authorities would not have to specify if they reduce these rights even further.
"It is totally unacceptable that the proposals on the table fail to differentiate between suspects, witnesses, guilty parties and victims as regards the protection of their fundamental rights, with regard to the proportionality of privacy infringements. The role of data protection authorities in this context is also left totally unclear.
"The purpose behind this reform, namely that a better harmonisation would strengthen citizens' rights, is being completely lost. Without cross-border data protection standards, it is unacceptable that there can be greater cooperation and information exchange between police authorities. The position of EU governments on this directive is clearly at odds with many elements of the position voted by the European Parliament. In the coming legislative negotiations, the Council will have to make significant changes if agreement is to be reached."