EU representatives attending upcoming transatlantic trade negotiations in New York must defend human rights, the fight against mass surveillance, data protection and individual privacy.
So says Maryant Fernández Pérez, an Advocacy Manager at European Digital Rights (EDRi). In a guest blog for the London School of Economics and Political Science, Ms Pérez reminds members of the EU’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) that when they take part in the next round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations in New York between 20th and 24th April, they should be prepared to defend the robust Opinion recently issued by the EU’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).
LIBE’s Opinion, issued on 31st March, calls on the European Commission to defend some core EU rights and freedoms: the need for a suspensive and binding human rights clause, respect for democracy and the rule of law, the fight against mass surveillance, the need for greater transparency and accountability, and a strong defence of data protection and privacy.
Led by its rapporteur, Jan Albrecht MEP, LIBE asks the Commission to exclude fundamental rights concerning data protection and privacy from negotiations with both TTIP and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). It has also rejected the draft chapter proposed by the US to TiSA on ecommerce and has instead insisted on compliance with EU adequacy rules concerning international data flows.
This is a major issue. The Irish Times recently reported that the European Commission “has conceded that it cannot guarantee EU citizens’ fundamental right to privacy when their data is transferred to the US.”
LIBE wants an enforceable horizontal clause, modelled on Article XIV of the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS), exempting from the agreement the EU’s existing and future legal framework for protecting personal data, with no condition that it should be consistent with other parts of the TTIP.
Businesses and individuals produce and hold content that they’re happy to share publicly and content that should be protected from prying eyes (like names, addresses, bank account details and dates of birth). As Ms Pérez puts it:
“Now, it is crucial that the INTA committee takes the LIBE Opinion in full consideration for the Commission to follow Parliament’s advice.”