Bloomberg BNA is reporting that the EU hopes to reach a Safe Harbor deal with the U.S. on Monday, February 1, 2016. Speaking at the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection Conference in Brussels, Paul F. Nemitz, Director for Fundamental Rights and Union Citizenship at the Directorate-General Justice of the European Commission said, “[w]e hope to be able to reach an [acceptable] arrangement.” Mr. Nemitz is considered one of the top European Commission officials negotiating with the U.S. on reaching a successor treaty to the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor data transfer program.
As previously reported, on October 6, 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union overturned the Safe Harbor program when it ruled in Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner that the voluntary Safe Harbor Program did not provide adequate protection to the personal data of EU citizens. Post Schrems U.S. companies have been unclear what to do to transfer data out of the EU in a compliant manner.
Mr. Nemitz said the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Justice, Vera Jourova, will go to parliament Monday evening to “inform member states then of the outcome” of talks to reach a resolution on a possible replacement for the Safe Harbor. A January 31, 2016 deadline has been set by the Article 29 Working Party of data protection officials from the 28 EU member states. The hope for agreement by February 1, 2016 is pertinent as the Art. 29 Party is scheduled to meet February 2, 2016 to discuss this issue.
Interestingly, U.S. Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill also appeared with Mr. Nemitz at the conference. While Ms. Brill confirmed “[t]here’s absolutely a path to agreement,” she was less committal as to a potential Monday resolution saying, “[w]e need to get there. We can’t allow this to continue to be a stumbling block. But I don’t have a crystal ball.”
We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as we obtain them.