For several decades now the idea of a transatlantic single market between the USA and the EU has been mooted. Since then there have been a number of resolutions from the EU on this issue, so far without appreciable success. However, the project now seems to be gathering momentum again. As recently as the end of last year, President Barack Obama of the USA and EU Council President Herman van Rompuy set up a joint working party to reconsider the idea. The Irish Presidency of the EU has also backed the project. In many respects, however, the USA and Europe have very different approaches to important issues of economic and social policy. That being so, I should like to ask the following question.
In the area of data protection, the European and American approaches could hardly be more different, whether regarding access to bank data or to data in ‘clouds’. Furthermore there are some laws in the USA which appear very dubious to Europeans, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which allows the US authorities to exercise a high degree of surveillance. There is also the subpoena procedure, whereby US authorities can force businesses to release data, and in which the protection of EU citizens is not clearly regulated. The US administration is also evidently keen to access Twitter profiles and similar data. Given that the use of the Internet plays a key role in an increasing number of areas of daily life, and that frequently several undertakings are involved in providing a given service, in a transatlantic internal market it would become even harder to guarantee European data protection standards. What measures does the Commission propose to take in this area?