First step towards a new data protection regulation for Europe taken – still a problem for register based research?

On October 21st, the Committee for Civil Liberties and Home Affairs (LIBE) agreed on a new proposal for the Europe-wide regulation on data protection. The commissioner Vivian Redding marked this as an important step forward for the protection of personal data in Europe. Researchers in the Nordic countries have been worried that the legislation will make register based research considerably more difficult, whereas it would be of great importance for the improvement of public health and welfare in Europe and the world to facilitate such research. An early proposal from LIBE in 2013 looked very threatening for research, but has now been modified into a reasonable compromise. It is, however, not quite clear yet that research has been exempted from some of the requirements that in practice would make this kind of research impossible. The second step in the process is negotiations between the commission, the European Council, and the Parliament to come up with a joint proposal for the new legislation. A vote in the Parliament is foreseen for late April 2014. If the negotiations have resulted in a common agreement between all three parties, this vote will be on a finalized joint proposal from all the parties which will replace national legislation in the same area (e.g. PUL in Sweden). If not, futher negotiations will be postponed until after the election to the Parliament, which means a delay of one to two years before the new legislation can be passed in both the Parliament and the Council.

Link to additional information regarding the process related to the data protection regulation