(Adds UK comment)
BRUSSELS, Feb 19 (Reuters) – The European Commission said onFriday Britain’s data protection laws were in line with theEuropean Union’s and that it would start a process to allow acontinued flow of police and financial data from the EU toBritain for the next four years.
Financial data flows are important for businesses and policeand intelligence services to be able to exchange records, eventhough EU data protection laws no longer bind Britain followingits departure from the bloc last year.
But London has already incorporated the EU regulations intoits own laws on personal data protection and the EU will nowcheck again only in four years whether they have diverged fromthe EU before another extension, the executive Commission said.
“Ensuring free and safe flow of personal data is crucial forbusinesses and citizens on both sides of the Channel. The UK hasleft the EU, but not the European privacy family,” CommissionVice President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova said.
“At the same time, we should ensure that our decision willstand the test of time,” she said, promising “clear and strict”monitoring and review mechanisms.
Before the EU formally grants the adequacy status to Britishlaws, it needs to consult its European Data Protection Board andget a green light from a committee composed of representativesof EU member states’ governments.
This should be completed before the end of June, when aninterim arrangement for data flows after Brexit ends.
Britain welcomed the Commission’s move as a reflection ofits commitment to high data protection standards.
“I now urge the EU to fulfil their commitment to completethe technical approval process promptly, so businesses andorganisations on both sides can seize the clear benefits,” saidOliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Mediaand Sport.(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, Editing by John Chalmers andTimothy Heritage)