The Christmas break and new year celebrations are far behind us now as we have officially entered February. January started off fairly quiet here in Brussels as we waited for the MEPs to return and for the Parliament and other institutions to re-open. However, it wasn’t long before activity picked up again and we saw the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council commence its term, continuing from Estonia. The Bulgarian Presidency is very much focused on ensuring that the motions put in place by the Estonian Presidency continue and it will be interesting to see how it progresses certain key dossiers such as the ePrivacy Regulation and the Transparency Register.
Earlier in January I attended a roundtable event hosted by the Law Society of England and Wales for law firms to discuss the GDPR, share experiences and raise questions. I presented to the participants information about what other European bars and law societies are doing to become ready for the GDPR, specifically, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and the Czech Republic. I also updated the group on the various legislative proposals to implement the GDPR in certain member states.
Germany was the first EU country to implement the GDPR with the German Data Protection Amendment Act coming into force on 25 May 2018 and Austria was the second. Whilst there are proposals going through the legislative process in many other member states, these are currently the only two to have passed all the necessary legislation needed to bring national laws in line with the new regulation.
I also presented the views from these countries about whether law firms should be considered as data controllers or data processors for the purposes of GDPR. This is a much-debated question in the UK among law firms and it was surprising to see how many different interpretations of the question exist around the EU.
Computers, Privacy and Data Protection
Last week I attended the 11th International Conference on Computers, Privacy and Data Protection. This was a fantastic three-day event with a fully loaded programme of panel discussions with speakers from academia, EU institutions, the legal profession and various lobbying bodies.
Over the three days I heard discussions about the Indian Supreme Court ruling last year and its implications for the transfer of data internationally, national implementations of the GDPR, how our favourite apps will change with GDPR and ePrivacy as well as debates around artificial intelligence and ethics.
I particularly enjoyed hearing the views of Karolina Mojzesowicz, Deputy Head of the unit responsible for data protection at DG JUST (Justice and Consumers Directorate-General). Ms Mojzesowicz was one of the Commission's representatives in the interinstitutional negotiations with Parliament and Council on the GDPR so she was extremely knowledgeable and, as a speaker, was very clear and engaging.
Welcoming in the New Year
On 31 January we co-hosted a New Year reception with our office partners, (the German Federal Bar, Czech Bar, Austrian Bar, Luxembourgish Bar and French-German speaking Belgian Bar) where we welcomed officeholders and colleagues from the three UK Law Societies (England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). This celebrates a series of stakeholder meetings which our colleagues are hosting with MEPs, Commissioners, British Chamber of Commerce, the Bulgarian Permanent Representation and the Northern Ireland and Scottish Executives.
It was nice to put faces to the names of so many colleagues who I have been emailing over the past months over a drink and a canapé!
Tamasin will be tweeting throughout her time in Brussels and you can follow the Boyes Turner trainees twitter feed here.
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