Ireland joins call for free EU data flows

Half of EU member states stand against the likes of Germany and France...

Ireland has joined half of the European Union in calling for data barriers to be removed.

Ministers from 14 EU member states have signed an open letter to the European Commission and EU presidency-holders The Netherlands today, urging them to loosen restriction on data flows.

The free flow would benefit the development of data-driven technologies, the letter argues.

It reads:

"It should be ensured that data can move freely across borders, both within and outside the EU, by removing all unjustified barriers to the free flow of data and that regulation does not constitute a barrier to development and adoption of innovative data-driven technologies".

"It is vital for European competitiveness to take a positive approach to new advancements in digital technologies and business models.

"Europe can benefit significantly from new data-driven technologies if the right future-proof regulatory framework is established".

It also calls on the European Commission to disregard all parts of the ePrivacy directive that are no longer "fit for purpose" in a document that will be seen in some quarters as a push for the controversial EU-US Privacy Shield.

The letter was signed by ministers from Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK.

The move is in contrast to the stance taken by the likes of France and Germany, who have pushed for greater restrictions on the storage and transferal of data.

They are concerned with how data is being handled, particularly across the Atlantic, by US surveillance agencies.

The European Commission unveiled its plans for a digital single market last year, in a bid to knock down digital walls in Europe to compete with the US tech giants. This Wednesday sees the commission present the result of its inquiry into online platforms and where action should be taken. 

An EU proposal enabling the free flow of data and countering counter data localisation initiatives in countries like France and Germany should arrive later this year.