Free flow of data: EU adopts new rules

The Council today signed off on the reform that will bring down barriers to the free movement of non-personal data within the EU. The new rules are designed to boost the data economy and the development of emerging technologies such as cross-border autonomous systems and artificial intelligence. A provisional deal was concluded with the European Parliament on 19 June 2018.

“Strengthening the data sector will improve Europe’s competitiveness. The free flow of data is key for growth and creating jobs, and will provide more flexibility for our companies. From now on they will be able to choose the cloud provider that suits them best.”  – Margarete Schramböck, Austrian Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs and President of the Council

The reform bans data localisation restrictions imposed by member states on the geographical location for storing or processing non-personal data, unless such restrictions are justified on grounds of public security. Member states’ authorities will continue to have access to data even when it is located in another country. Data may need to be accessed for example for the purposes of regulatory or supervisory control.

The regulation also encourages the development of codes of conduct to make it easier for users of data processing services to switch providers or to port their data back to their own IT systems.

Today’s Council vote concludes the legislative procedure at first reading. The European Parliament voted on 4 October 2018. The regulation is set to be signed by both institutions during the Parliament’s plenary session in mid-November and then published in the EU Official Journal. It will be directly applicable in all member states six months after its publication.


Credit: Päivikki Ala-Honkola –

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