Data Protection: Legislative Procedure

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This page tries to explain the european legislative procedure, and more specificaly the one regarding the General Data Protection Regulation proposed by the Commission.

The involved committees and their role

On 25 January 2012, the European Commission issued a proposal for a Regulation on Data Protection, aimed to repeal the 1995 Directive on Personal Data Protection and to offer better protection to data subjects. The European Parliament LIBE committee (the part of the Parliament focusing on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs issues) was chosen to propose, on 24 and 25 April, the amendments that will be added to the proposal. Then, the Parliament will vote the Regulation with these amendments on plenary later this year.

Until then, four other committees will assist LIBE by issuing their own opinion on the amendments they think wise to propose. On 23 January 2012, IMCO (which deals with Internal Market and Consumer Protection), the first committee to be solicited, issued its opinion. On 20 and 21 February, ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy) and EMPL (Employment and Social Affairs) will issue theirs and JURI (Legal Affairs) will finally issue its on 19 March.

Understanding Compromised Amendments

For instance, ITRE members has already proposed almost a thousand amendments. On 21 February, ITRE will have to vote whether to incorporate each one of them into its final opinion or not - which would take an unnecessarily high amount of time and effort. Thus, several amendments being often aimed to modify the same article of the Regulation, committee's members can avoid to vote multiple times on the same issues by gathering these amendments around a single « compromised amendment » - that will only be voted once and, if voted, make the other amendments being automatically rejected.

As such, a compromised amendment's main purpose could seem to be to shorten the debate's duration. But the amendments that can be rejected because of its vote may have actually matter, as some of them may provide some unique approaches on critical issues. Thus, compromised amendments could easily be used to water down such approaches and to promote others and must be observed as such. Finally, their content having been negotiated by the whole committee, compromised amendments may provide some clues on the major amendments it will ultimately vote.