EU Commission starts legal action against Belgium over privacy watchdog

The Belgian flag is seen outside Brussels Royal Palace during negotiations to form a government, in Brussels Belgium September 21, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS, June 9 (Reuters) - The European Commission on Wednesday launched the first step of legal action against Belgium for failing to ensure the independence of its privacy watchdog in breach of EU privacy rules.

"Some of its members cannot be regarded as free from external influence because they either report to a management committee depending on the Belgian government," the EU executive said, referring the Belgian data protection authority.

It said the agency's members also take part in governmental projects on COVID-19 contact tracing or they are members of the Information Security Committee.

Belgium has two months to detail measures taken to ensure the agency's independence. The Commission's letter is the first stage in a process that can ultimately lead to it asking the EU's Court of Justice to impose penalties.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Marine Strauss;

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.