The UK Law Societies’ Brussels Office and the European Policy Centre held a breakfast meeting on 25 September 2018 concerning data protection and Brexit.

The ability to exchange sensitive personal data is now of the utmost importance in creating deeper ties between countries. It underpins everything from economic links (for example the growing digital economy) to security cooperation. At the same time, the rules protecting sensitive data are developing in potentially divergent ways. It is possible that the EU and the US will have another round of data exchange negotiations in the near future.

The UK’s departure from the EU poses a series of existential questions for the UK. To forge a deep relationship with the EU, it will need to bind itself to developments at EU-level on data protection and privacy.

However, it may decide to pursue a looser adequacy arrangement with the EU, which would allow the UK more flexibility when negotiating agreements in the field with other countries in the future. The price of such an arrangement would be less certainty in the exchange of information between the UK and EU.

This seminar brought together a panel of experts from the EU, US and UK to discuss the following issues:

  • While the EU develops its data protection and privacy rules, what impact will this have on third country partners?
  • What will the result of US developments in the field be?
  • What are the known conflict points between the two regimes?
  • What are the options for the UK post-Brexit?

The speakers were:

  • Alistair Robinson, First Secretary (Legal), UK Representation to the EU
  • Peter Wright, Director, Digital Law UK and Chair of the GDPR Working Group, Law Society of England and Wales
  • Chris Gowe, Director, EU Public Policy, Government Affairs, Cisco Systems

The event was introduced by Dr Helena Raulus, Director of the Law Societies’ Brussels office and moderated by Fabian Zuleeg, Chief Executive and Chief Economist, European Policy Centre.