Wilbur Ross warns Schrems II ruling could have ‘severe consequences’ for EU-US trade

US secretary of commerce says ruling by ECJ undermines transatlantic trade

The US secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, has warned that the so-called Shrems II ruling could undermine transatlantic trade with "severe economic consequences" for Europe and the US.

Earlier this year the European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck down a major agreement governing the transfer of EU citizens’ data to the US.

The ruling in the long-running battle between Facebook, Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner and the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems found that EU-US Privacy Shield agreement did not offer sufficient protection of EU citizens' personal data.

Speaking at a leadership event hosted by Irish-American business group Ireland INC, Mr Ross said the US " remains deeply concerned" by the ruling, which he said, had negative implications for the standard data transfers that underpin $7.1 trillion in EU/US trade.


“If EU and US companies continue to face legal burdens and uncertainty while transferring data across the Atlantic, the US and Europe will face severe economic consequences,” he said.

Mr Ross was speaking as Americans voted in one of the most divisive elections in decades, pitting incumbent Donald Trump against Democrat nominee Joe Biden.

“The Trump administration remains committed to and is actively working with our European partners to address the uncertainty created by the Shrems II ruling and find an enduring solution that entails continuity for transatlantic data flows and strong privacy protections,” Mr Ross said.

The Wall Street investor, who went on to become Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, said his department would continue to make resources available to Ireland’s business and Government.

“Deepening our bilateral economic ties is essential to economic recovery for both our nations,” he said.

In his address, Mr Ross spoke of the strong bond between Ireland and the US, one that predated both countries’ independence.

He said US foreign direct investment (FD1) into Ireland amounted to $354 billion last year, with 70 companies supporting 155,000 jobs here.

Mr Ross also noted that Ireland is now the eighth largest FDI to the United States, resulting in significant employment across all 50 states balancing that of the employment of US multinationals across Ireland.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times