This week the Council adopted the decision authorising the European Union to conclude the so called “Umbrella agreement” which puts in place a comprehensive high-level data protection framework for criminal law enforcement cooperation. The agreement improves, in particular, EU citizens’ rights by providing equal treatment with US citizens when it comes to judicial redress rights before US courts.
“I welcome this important step towards better cooperation between US and European law enforcement authorities when combatting serious crime and terrorism. This agreement will guarantee the full respect for fundamental rights whenever personal data is being transferred between us. I will go to Washington in a few days to meet with our US counterparts and will inform them that the EU is ready to go forward.” , – Minister of interior Robert Kaliňák from the Slovak presidency of the Council said.
The “Umbrella agreement” covers all personal data exchanged between police and criminal justice authorities of the EU member states and the US federal authorities for the purpose of prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences, including terrorism.
The agreement will facilitate criminal law enforcement cooperation while, at the same time, providing safeguards and guarantees of the lawfulness of data transfers. Those include, for example, provisions on clear limitations on data use, the obligation to seek prior consent before any onward transfer of data, the obligation to define appropriate retention periods, the right to access and rectification.
The agreement will complement existing and future EU-US and member state-US agreements between criminal law enforcement authorities. It is not in itself a legal instrument for any transfer of personal information to the US but it supplements, where necessary, data protection safeguards in existing and future data transfer agreements or national provisions authorising such transfers.
The European Parliament gave its consent for the conclusion of the agreement on 1st December. The agreement will enter into force once the US authorities have completed their internal procedures.