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EU to allow continued data flows to UK following Brexit

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters, where Brexit talks are taking place, in Brussels, Belgium, December 24, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Friday Britain’s data protection laws were in line with the European Union’s and that it would start a process to allow a continued flow of police and financial data from the EU to Britain for the next four years.

Financial data flows are important for businesses and police and intelligence services to be able to exchange records, even though EU data protection laws no longer bind Britain following its departure from the bloc last year.

But London has already incorporated the EU regulations into its own laws on personal data protection and the EU will now check again only in four years whether they have diverged from the EU before another extension, the executive Commission said.

“Ensuring free and safe flow of personal data is crucial for businesses and citizens on both sides of the Channel. The UK has left the EU, but not the European privacy family,” Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova said.

“At the same time, we should ensure that our decision will stand the test of time,” she said, promising “clear and strict” monitoring and review mechanisms.

Before the EU formally grants the adequacy status to British laws, it needs to consult its European Data Protection Board and get a green light from a committee composed of representatives of EU member states’ governments.

This should be completed before the end of June, when an interim arrangement for data flows after Brexit ends.

Britain welcomed the Commission’s move as a reflection of its commitment to high data protection standards.

“I now urge the EU to fulfil their commitment to complete the technical approval process promptly, so businesses and organisations on both sides can seize the clear benefits,” said Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, Editing by John Chalmers and Timothy Heritage