18 Mar 2016

John Higgins' speech at LIBE Public Hearing on #PrivacyShield 17 March 2016

John Higgins' speech at LIBE Public Hearing on #PrivacyShield 17 March 2016

Thank you Chair and good afternoon to all. I want to begin by thanking the LIBE Committee for inviting DIGITALEUROPE to speak to you this afternoon and present our views at this important hearing on the new EUUS Privacy Shield mechanism.

For those of you in the audience who may not be familiar with DIGITALEUROPE, DIGITALEUROPE is an industry association, which represents the digital technology sector in Europe based in Brussels. Our members are drawn from some of the world’s largest tech companies as well as member associations from every Member State of the EU and a little bit beyond too.

It is worth noting that our large multi-national companies invest widely in Europe. I was in Bratislava earlier this week and found that one of our large multi-national companies employs 5,000 people in Slovakia making them one of the largest employers. And our national associations represent 23,270 companies, employing 7,5 million people.

Now clearly I haven’t spoken to every single one of those 23,000 companies, but just in the last seven days I’ve been in Greece, the UK, Slovakia and the Netherlands and I know what it feels like for SMEs operating in Europe at the moment. I know that Greece perhaps is a special case, but one company I was speaking to there that I’ve known for many years is now only half the size that it was before the crisis. I tell you that because I want to make it clear to you that small companies in the tech sector in Europe are really having a tough time of it at the moment.

Many of them have expressed their concerns about transatlantic data flows to me directly. This is why we not only welcome the announcement of the draft Adequacy Decision by the European Commission, but we also welcome today’s hearing and the commitment it demonstration on behalf of MEPs to contribute to a successful outcome. We clearly need a robust mechanism that supports economic growth and good tech jobs in Europe and protects the fundamental rights of EU citizens.

I wish to stress to everyone here today that our members have been and continue to be deeply committed to abiding by the legal requirements. It’s a statement of the obviously, but I believe it’s worth saying again. Those legal requirements are necessary to ensure a high level of data protection when transferring data.

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