EP will play the role of watchdog over new Safe Harbour deal
Members of the Civil Liberties Committee welcomed the progress made in the ongoing talks on a new Safe Harbour framework on EU-US data transfers laid out by Commissioner Jourová on Monday evening. Civil Liberties Committee Chair Claude Moraes promised that the European Parliament will play the role of watchdog for citizens over any new Safe Harbour agreement.
MEPs also voiced strong concerns over the envisaged safeguards to limit data collection, underlined the need to ensure an independent and individual complaints mechanism as well as access to judicial redress for EU citizens.
Statement by Committee Chair Claude Moraes (S&D, UK):
"Following this evening's discussion with Commissioner Jourová, although I welcome the commitments of the Commission to renegotiate the Safe Harbour agreement, I am deeply concerned about the value of the proposals in reality, from the ombudsman to future guarantees on judicial redress.
The Commission has informed members of some of the proposals including US proposals to create a data Ombudsman for EU citizens within the State Department. A number of key questions remain in order to meet the conditions of an independent data protection authority required by the Charter of fundamental rights and Article 16 of the Treaty. It is also important that the Commission continues its dialogue with Parliament particularly with regards to the details of a new agreement.
The European Parliament has played a strong role in trying to make Safe Harbour "safe" from the beginning and it has long warned of the shortcomings of the agreement. In addition, Parliament has held several hearings in order to highlight loopholes in the agreement with regards to fundamental rights. These concerns led to Parliament calling for the suspension of the agreement in March 2014 following the LIBE inquiry on mass surveillance. Last year, the European Court of Justice also shared the concerns of Parliament following the Schrems case and the decision to invalidate the Safe Harbour agreement.
As chair of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee, I am fully aware of the importance of this agreement for EU citizens as well as EU and US businesses which is why both partners must continue with discussions for a new Safe Harbour agreement. Transparency is essential during these discussions particularly given that no mandate was given to the Commission by the Council with regards to Safe Harbour.
The European Parliament can play a key role in giving the Commission a strengthened political mandate to re-open discussions. The LIBE committee will hold a hearing in order to facilitate open and transparent discussions with US counterparts for a new Safe Harbour that will give more protection of fundamental rights as well as provide much needed legal clarity for businesses."
The progress made on the talks will be on the agenda of the Commissioners' weekly meeting on Tuesday.
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