Civil society groups respond to EU position on data privacy in trade negotiations

BEUC NEWS - 28.02.2018

On 31 January 2018, the European Commission adopted a position on data flows, data protection and privacy in trade deals. On 9 February, it was leaked. The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), European Digital Rights (EDRi), and the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) now write to the European Commission to express their support.


The three civil society organisations are positive to see the EU demonstrate that it intends to protect its citizens’ fundamental rights when negotiating free trade deals.

A clear signal that the EU intends to protect its citizens' fundamental rights

For many years, we have requested that data protection and data flows be fully excluded from trade deals. The EU’s data protection and privacy rules are a model for citizens’ rights in many parts of the world and represent a fundamental pillar of our legal system. These rules must never be undermined by a trade agreement. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has expressed similar views.

Unfortunately, not all countries around the world protect their citizens’ fundamental rights, and could therefore challenge our system via trade deals. Through this political decision, the European Commission ensures that this will never be the case.

Ironing out the last unclarities...

In our letter to the EU, we nevertheless ask for clarification on some points of the EU's position. Specifically, it must...

  • Explain how this position will apply, in comparison to the old safeguards, in case of a dispute with trading partners.
  • Ensure that this position applies to all chapters of a trade agreement, including those on telecoms, financial services and the 'schedule of commitments' regarding services.

More information

  • Joint statement by civil society groups BEUC, EDRi and TACD: The European Commission rightly decides to defend citizens’ privacy in trade discussions
  • Joint letter to the European Commission
  • Study “Trade and privacy – Difficult bedfellows? How to achieve data protection-proof free trade agreements” (13 July 2016)