EU, US reach provisional deal on data flows but final pact months away

EU, US reach provisional deal on data flows but final pact months away

The European Union and the United States reached a preliminary agreement to avoid major disruption in transatlantic data flows that had been jeopardized by a ruling of the EU top court, the EU Commission head and the US President said on Friday.

Data transfers between the EU and the US have faced a risk of major disruption since a ruling of the EU Court of Justice in 2020 which invalidated a previous arrangement aimed at balancing EU privacy concerns with US surveillance measures.

The provisional deal would offer companies which handle the flow of personal data across the Atlantic stronger legal protections, in addition to contractual clauses that already shield them. However a final deal is expected to take months, an EU official said.

“Today, we’ve agreed to unprecedented protections for data privacy and security for citizens,” Joe Biden said in a joint news conference in Brussels with the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“I am very pleased that we have found an agreement in principle on a new framework for transatlantic data flows,” von der Leyen said.

“This will enable predictable and trustworthy data flows between the EU and US, safeguarding privacy and civil liberties,” she added, without elaborating.

An EU official familiar with the matter said months were likely needed to turn the provisional agreement into a final legal deal.

“First, the US needs to prepare their executive order, and then we need to do our internal consultation in the Commission and within the European Data Protection Board,” the official said.

EU companies welcomed the provisional deal.

“Legal certainty about data flows will spur innovation, growth, and job creation. This is a win-win-agreement for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Markus J. Beyrer, director of BusinessEurope, which represents EU companies

Data privacy campaigners said they would study the pact when it is completed.

“The final text will need more time, once this arrives we will analyze it in depth, together with our US legal experts. If it is not in line with EU law, we or another group will likely challenge it,” said activist Max Schrems. [Reuters]

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