Page last updated at 22:10 GMT, Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Data protection question

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has told MEPs that no law by a non-EU country should over-rule an EU law, but has admitted there should be further clarification.

The commitment came in response to a question from a cross-party group of MEPs on 15 February 2012 on the impact of third country legislation on EU data protection laws.

The US Patriot Act has been cited as an example of a law where the submission of personal data stored in the EU is required to be submitted to the US authorities.

Ms Reding admitted that there was not enough clarity in existing framework, but that a new data protection regulation, drawn up by the Commission at the end of January, would "bring further legal clarity".

She also confirmed that it was still up to the International Court of Justice - based in The Hague - to be the final arbiter on such disputes.

Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in 't Veld said there was no need for new legislation, and that the focus should be on properly enforcing existing legislation.

Ms Reding cited examples where data could be shared with non-EU countries, such as data transfer between competition or customs authorities.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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