BusinessEurope | 30 October 2017
Letter from BusinessEurope on cross-border data flows
Dear First Vice-President,
I would like to address this letter to you in the context of the current discussions on the EU’s approach to cross-border data flows and the inclusion of specific provisions in the Free Trade Agreements negotiated by the EU. We are aware of the particular attention you pay to this matter and support your efforts to develop an EU proposal.
Cross-border data flows are essential to global trade and contribute significantly in the growth of the economy as a whole. They enable business operations for companies big and small across industry and service sectors. They also support consumers’ access to a wider variety of goods and services. The EU is the biggest global exporters of IT enabled services, and we should ensure that we maintain this leadership. At the same time, we recognise the need to address legitimate concerns on privacy and the protection of personal data.
BusinessEurope has a clear position on this issue. We support a solution that enables cross-border data flows and effectively tackles forced data localisation when it is disproportionate and unjustified, without questioning the application of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
In our view, the EU cannot remain silent on this important topic and a proposal should be agreed as a matter of urgency. We do not believe the "concept paper" released earlier created the right balance, as it could have potentially made it very easy for our trading partners to invoke data protection reasons to engage in data protectionism. We also noted that a very large majority of Member States expressed concerns with the European Commission proposal. European companies across the board are currently faced with an increasing number of barriers that prevent the flow of data and promote forced data localisation. It’s a worrying sign that many of our trading partners are taking advantage of the lack of an enforceable legal framework to promote their own interests and support their own companies. The inability of our companies to transfer data from third countries to Europe will force them to delocalise operations.
It is time to send the right signal to our trading partners and develop a position that will enable the EU to advance on this matter in trade negotiations both at bilateral as well as plurilateral and multilateral levels.