EUROPEAN REVIEW

European Review logo

ISSUE 73 page 6

Euromap  cyprus= Croatia Switzerland Iceland Serbia Russia Turkey Norway Slovenia Ireland Sweden Portugal Spain Belgium Germany Poland Italy Greece Czech Republic Austria France Denmark Netherlands Finland Estonia Malta Hungary Ukraine Slovakia Latvia Luxembourg Lithuania Romania Bulgaria Albania Macedonia Moldova Liechtenstein

Choose a country to take your mouse,clicking on most will show an article on that country

Recent rulings from the European Courts

Stormy waters enter ‘safe harbour’ after judgement

EU legislators persuaded European citizens that transfer of their electronic data to the U.S.A. was legitimate by signing the ‘safe harbour’ agreement in 2000. Now this cosy arrangement has had a bomb put under it by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which found in favour of an Austrian complainant. We evaluate the possible repercussions.

The ‘safe harbour’ agreement enabled American companies to self-certify themselves so that, as long as they proclaimed that they followed data protection rules roughly equivalent to the laws in the EU, they were free to hold European users’ data on U.S. Internet servers. About 4,400 firms, including Adobe, Facebook and Weight Watchers,  signed up but not only was there was no independent scrutiny of them about 25 companies are currently being prosecuted by the U.S. authorities for lieing about belonging to the scheme.
Now ‘safe harbour’ itself has been threatened by Austrian student Max Schrems who took exception to Facebook transferring his personal information to the U.S.A. following the revelations by former C.I.A. contractor Edward Snowden about such companies passing on data to the U.S. government. The Irish data commissioner (Facebook’s EU headquarters is in Ireland) refused to take up his complaint claiming that the social network giant was covered by ‘Safe Harbour’. The ECJ, called on by the Irish courts after Schrems appealed, disagreed. They found in his favour declaring the whole agreement invalid based on the inability of any EU authority to scrutinise the use of data by the signed-up companies.
The repercussions are likely to be severe; American exports of digitally deliverable services to the EU are worth more than €125 billion and imports €77 billion. Any enterprises, including European ones, using external data storage such as Amazon Cloud Services or Oracle are likely to transfer data across the Atlantic. Moreover the court gave no grace period for the companies to get their houses in order or for the European Commission to negotiate a new agreement. The onus immediately falls on national data commissioners to police the transfers and Berlin’s commented that we ’were not sufficiently resourced even before the judgment, and it will get worse now’. Helmut Scholz, from the GUE-NGL group in the European Parliament summed up transatlantic differences: ‘For the … Americans, personal data is just another commodity ... data protection for us in Europe is a greater virtue than commercial and government interests’.

 

Travel time is work time
Test the toxic 0.1%
A case brought by Spanish union federation CC.OO has struck a blow for mobile workers. In 2011 the Tyco burglar alarm company closed their regional offices in Spain and equipped their employees with company vehicles and mobile telephones. The technicians were expected to drive for as long as three hours to their first job and back home again at the end of the day. Only the time from arrival at the first customer until the departure from the last was paid. Previously working time had started on picking up the vehicle at the office and ended when it was returned. The court considered that the workers were ‘at the employer’s disposal for the time of the journeys … who may change the order of the customers or cancel or add an appointment’. It was the company’s office closure that had led to them travelling from home and this should not disadvantage the employees. Therefore the travelling time should be paid. The ETUC’s Veronica Nilsson commented: ‘This is good news for many home care workers, repair and maintenance staff and other mobile workers’.
A Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) is defined by the EU’s REACH regulations as being carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic. When an SVHC is more than 0.1% of an article the  producer or importer must inform the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the buyer and the eventual consumer. But what is an article? The European Commission issued guidance that, for instance, a car manufacturer only had to inform the customer if 0.1% of the whole vehicle was toxic etc. Five Member States disagreed saying that the 0.1% could apply to parts of a car e.g. the brake linings. The court concurred and added that all persons in the supply chain have a duty to, at least, provide the name of the substance to the next recipient of the product. According to Dr. Knoell, a regulatory consulting firm: ‘importers of articles will be heavily affected by the new developments’.




Top of page

 

 


 

 cyprus= Croatia Switzerland Iceland Serbia Russia Turkey Norway Slovenia Ireland Sweden Portugal Spain Belgium Germany Poland Italy Greece Czech Republic Austria France Denmark Netherlands Finland Estonia Malta Hungary Ukraine Slovakia Latvia Luxembourg Lithuania Romania Bulgaria Albania Macedonia Moldova Liechtenstein