European policy-makers are set to allow data to continue to be transferred between the UK and the EU — a welcome move for City firms and the first sign of improving relations between the two sides after a series of post-Brexit spats.
In a draft decision, issued by the European Commission on the 19 February, the EU’s executive body said it had concluded “that the UK ensures an essentially equivalent level of protection” on the protection of personal data as that in operation in the bloc.
The decision, which requires scrutiny by the European Data Protection Board and a “green light” from representatives of the EU’s member states before it can be implemented, will allow the personal information that companies handle to continue to be exchanged between financial organisations in the UK and EU after Brexit.
It will be welcomed by financial services firms that regularly transfer data including that relating to IT contracts, recruitment systems and HR processes, from the EU to the UK . Such firms had previously undertaken extensive work to agree specific contractual changes with the parties involved in such data transfers in advance of the UK’s exit from the bloc on 31 December.
Under the EU’s adequacy regime, countries outside the bloc can secure limited access to the single market if EU regulators judge another jurisdiction’s data rules to be as stringent as their own. The EU had previously said it could not begin to determine whether or not the UK’s data regime was adequate until after Brexit.
Věra Jourova, the Commission’s vice-president for values and transparency, said in a 19 February statement: “Ensuring free and safe flow of personal data is crucial for businesses and citizens on both sides of the Channel. The UK has left the EU, but not the European privacy family.”
Oliver Dowden, the UK’s secretary of state for digital said he welcomed the European Commission’s draft decisions.
“[They] rightly reflect the UK’s commitment to high data protection standards and pave the way for their formal approval,” he said.
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