Health organisations welcome draft decision to allow data flow between the EU and UK post-Brexit

European health organisations have welcomed a draft decision allowing transfers of personal data to continue to flow freely between the EU and the UK.

The European Commission granted the UK preliminary data access on the basis that its data protection rules are “essentially equivalent” to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Law Enforcement Directive (LED).

In a joint letter, a group of health organisations said recognition of the adequacy of the UK data protection regime is “vital for the functioning of the European health sector”.

They urge the European Data Protection Board and member states to support the draft adequacy decision, so that it can be formal adopted.

The letter has been signed by the NHS Confederation, European Patients Forum (EPF), Cancer Research, the British Medical Association (BMA), European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EOTRC), Federation of European Dental Competent Authorities and Regulators (FEDCAR), Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME), European Brain Council, the European Confederation of Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs (EUCOPE), European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOPE), Europabio, Nanotechia, Association of the European Self-Medication Industry (AESGP), European Junior Doctors Association (UJD), European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO), EURODIS, Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM), European Blood Alliance (EBA), European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association (HOSPEEM) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

WHY IT MATTERS

The health organisations argue that formal adoption of the draft adequacy decision is essential to address cross-border health threats, such as COVID-19, and facilitate information exchange between EU and UK regulators.

Also, they say it would allow cooperation between EU and UK researchers on clinical trials and epidemiological research to continue, and safeguard access for EEA-qualified medical professionals to opportunities for clinical practice and research in the UK.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

After adoption, the adequacy decision would be valid for four years. Data flows between the European Economic Area and the UK are currently continuing due to a conditional interim regime which expires on 30 June.         

ON THE RECORD

NHS Confederation, senior international policy manager, Rosie Richards said: “This preliminary decision from the Commission is a positive first step to ensure the continued secure free flow of personal data, and we are so glad to see so many of our European health counterparts coming out to support UK EU cooperation and emphasising that this agreement is vital for the healthcare sector.”

Věra Jourová, European Commission vice-president for values and transparency, 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.”

Didier Reynders, commissioner for justice, said: “EU citizens’ fundamental right to data protection must never be compromised when personal data travel across the Channel. The adequacy decisions, once adopted, would ensure just that.”

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