Draft Adequacy Decision Paves the Way for EU-UK Data Flows to Continue Freely

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The UK government has welcomed draft decisions by the European Commission to grant the UK adequacy status for data transfers, but has urged a quick completion of the approval process.

Published today, the draft decisions, which have followed months of discussions between the two parties, recognized the UK’s high data protection standards, paving the way for the free flow of data to continue from the EU to the UK. This relates to two areas, one under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the other for the Law Enforcement Directive.

As part of the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, signed at the end of last year just before the Brexit transition period expired, a bridging mechanism was agreed to allow personal data to flow between the two regions for a period of four months, potentially extending to six, while the EU considered whether or not to grant adequacy to the UK.

The Commission will now share the draft decisions with the European Data Protection Board for a ‘non-binding opinion’ before it is put forward to EU member states to formally approve.

Commenting on the decisions, Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, at the European Commission said: A flow of secure data between the EU and the UK is crucial to maintain close trade ties and cooperate effectively in the fight against crime. Today we launch the process to achieve that. We have thoroughly checked the privacy system that applies in the UK after it has left the EU. Now European Data Protection Authorities will thoroughly examine the draft texts. EU citizens' fundamental right to data protection must never be compromised when personal data travel across the Channel. The adequacy decisions, once adopted, would ensure just that.”

The UK government has requested that the EU formalises these adequacy decisions “swiftly,” to provide certainty for UK businesses and law enforcement agencies. It also emphasized the importance of maintaining seamless international data flows in an increasingly digitized and hyper-connected world.

Discussing the Commission’s announcement, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital Oliver Dowden said: “I welcome the publication of these draft decisions which rightly reflect the UK's commitment to high data protection standards and pave the way for their formal approval.

“Although the EU’s progress in this area has been slower than we would have wished, I am glad we have now reached this significant milestone following months of constructive talks in which we have set out our robust data protection framework.

“I now urge the EU to fulfil their commitment to complete the technical approval process promptly, so businesses and organizations on both sides can seize the clear benefits.”

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