The S&D Group – the main progressive force in the European Parliament, with 194 MEPs – has thrown its weight behind a groundbreaking vote to introduce new EU rules for data protection. This will include the obligation to obtain the consent of the people involved before their data can be processed, as well as stricter rules for data exchange processes with non-EU countries.
According to the draft reform adopted today in Strasbourg, companies violating the new rules could face penalties up to five percent of their global sales.
To enter into force and replace the outdated 1995 legislation, the new rules will now need to be backed by EU governments, some of which have so far been stalling on the reform.
In a separate vote, the MEPs also adopted on data-protection rules to be followed by law enforcement authorities and governing cross-border data processing in police and judicial co-operation, currently still regulated by 28 different legislative systems.
The new rules, drafted by S&D MEP Dimitrios Droutsas, would increase fairness and transparency on processing of personal data, setting limits on police in using them.
Dimitrios Droutsas MEP, the Parliament's rapporteur on the Data Protection Directive, said:
"This is a historic vote for the European Parliament.
"After two years of diligent work, we can today show European citizens, and in fact the whole world, that we mean business when we stand up as protectors of their fundamental rights.
"We have voted today in favour of a comprehensive, groundbreaking overhaul of the way we protect personal data in Europe. EU member states should pick up the task from where we left off and finish the job, which regrettably they have failed to do so far."
S&D Vice-President Sylvie Guillaume said:
"We should have greater protection when personal data is processed and both the directive and the regulation go in the right direction on this issue.
"We have, I believe, reached a balanced text ready to face the challenges of the digital world and we've tried to address the main concerns, despite intense lobbying.
"I now call on all member states not to postpone the adoption of these texts and to implement them as quickly as possible, for the benefit of our citizens."