Ministers discuss EU law reform


A proposed ‘right to be forgotten’ under EU data protection reforms will go “some way” to address the possible “reputational, financial and psychological risks” associated with social networking and other websites, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said.

Mr Shatter was speaking following an informal two-day meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers, which concluded in Dublin today.

Proposed data protection reforms and the new cross-border insolvency law were the main issues considered during the meeting.

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding, ministers from across the union and representatives of a number of EU agencies attended the event chaired by Mr Shatter.

Mr Shatter said the data protection reform package, which is due to come before the European Parliament shortly, was considered “essential to enhancing consumer confidence in the on-line market place”.

He said making significant progress on the package was a key priority for the Irish presidency of the European Union.

Mr Shatter noted the current data protection legislation dates from 1995 - “a time before the development of social networking websites and other internet phenomena”.

He said that due to the “ever-changing nature of the internet and on-line transactions”, new legislation was now required to ensure that the personal information of EU citizens was protected from those that would seek to abuse it.

“The new data protection package is an essential tool for enhancing confidence in the on-line market place,” Mr Shatter said.

“The proposals aim to improve individual’s control of their personal data, including the ‘right to be forgotten’ whereby an individual no longer wants his or her information processed on the internet.

“This new right will go some way to address the possible reputational, financial and psychological risks associated with social networking and internet based sites.”

The Minister said the proposed data protection regulation would provide the prospect of a uniform regulatory regime across the EU.

This would reduce costs to businesses and remove barriers to trade within the European market.

On the proposal to update cross-border insolvency laws in response to the economic downturn, Mr Shatter said one of the primary aims was to give potentially viable companies a second chance before being declared insolvent.

Justice ministers from across the EU and European Commission vice president Viviane Reding were in attendance.

Chief bureau officer of the Criminal Assets Bureau, Eugene Corcoran, made a presentation on Ireland’s civil legislation-based forfeiture and confiscation regime.

“Practical cross-border cooperation is vitally important to effectively tackle terrorism fed by crime in both jurisdictions,” Mr Shatter said.

He said CAB had been an “unqualified success” in the seizure of assets derived from criminal activities in the State he believed mutual recognition of European laws in this area would be a positive step towards combating organised crime.

Ministers also discussed the protection of fundamental rights and ways in which political leaders could help tackle “growing problems of hate crime and intolerance, including racism and anti-Semitism across Europe”.