UK faces years-long wait for post-Brexit data deal, warns European supervisor

UK faces years-long wait for post-Brexit data deal, warns European supervisor

Officials had privately expected deal could be struck in months as UK is GDPR compliant

The UK faces a wait of “years” before it can agree a data flow agreement with the EU after Brexit, Europe’s top privacy official has warned.

After Brexit, the UK will have prove it has adequate standards to protect the privacy of EU citizens data so that businesses can keep sharing vast volumes of personal data flows.

EU and British officials had privately expected an “adequacy” decision could be completed in months with the UK after Brexit as Britain will be fully compliant with the EU’s privacy framework, known as GDPR.

But Giovanni Buttarelli, the EU’s data protection supervisor, warned negotiations are likely to take years as EU authorities will have assess how UK spying agencies and the government handle the personal data of citizens. “Adequacy could take years. We will have to assess law enforcement bodies” said Mr Buttarelli.

“Adequacy findings take a lot of work even if [the UK] is fully compliant with the GDPR”.

“A divorce is a divorce, so you need time before re-establishing certain relationships. Once you are out, it is all more complicated”.

The data protection supervisor added the UK would have to get in a queue behind other economies, such as Mexico, South Korea and India, who have all shown interested in striking data flows deal with the EU.

Mr Buttarelli’s warning will be a blow to the UK government which has asked for a special arrangements on data flows with Europe after it leaves the bloc at the end of May. 

Brussels has a limited number of data adequacy deals with third countries. Adequacy is unilaterally granted by the European Commission and can be revoked with little notice. It recognises non-EU countries as having the same standards of privacy protection as Europe. Switzerland, Argentina, Israel, Japan, and the US are among the handful of economies that have deals with the bloc.

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