On April 10, 2014, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) issued a letter (the “Letter”) to Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, expressing its views on the European Commission’s ongoing revision of the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Framework.
On November 27, 2013, the European Commission published its analysis of the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Framework and other EU-U.S. data transfers agreements. The analysis included a communication on rebuilding trust in EU-U.S. data flow and another communication regarding the functioning of Safe Harbor. The European Commission concluded that the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Framework lacked transparency and effective enforcement, and recommended revising the Framework.
On March 12, 2014, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance program, calling for the immediate suspension of the Safe Harbor Framework.
Support from the Working Party
In the current Letter, the Working Party expresses its support for the actions taken by both the European Commission and the European Parliament. The Working Party states that it agrees with the European Commission’s recommendations to improve the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Framework and, in particular, recommendations 12 and 13 which set forth conditions for access by U.S. authorities to data transferred under Safe Harbor. The Working Party also calls for the suspension of the Safe Harbor agreement if the European Commission’s current revision process “does not lead to a positive outcome.” In addition, the Working Party recommends that the European Commission address certain additional elements for improvement (e.g., regarding transparency, onward transfers, redress, data subjects’ rights, access to data by U.S. authorities, security measures) in its ongoing negotiations with the U.S.