Data Armageddon averted!
Transitional arrangements had been agreed alongside the EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement at the end of 2020 to ensure the continued flow of data from the EU to the UK, but this was a short term solution designed to prevent initial disruption following Brexit. With the transitional arrangement due to expire at the end of June, the decision by the European Commission to grant the adequacy decision will be a welcome relief to multi-national organisations and those which rely on the flow of data from the EEA to the UK.
The UK and EU data protection standards are currently largely aligned, which was clearly a key factor in this decision. However the duration of the adequacy decision is limited to four years and the decision includes controls that would allow the European Commission to potentially withdraw the decision if UK data protection regime departs from the EU privacy standards.
The UK had already recognised the EU and EEA member states as ‘adequate’ until at least 2024, as part of its commitment to establish a smooth Brexit transition. The remaining uncertainty over the position on EU – UK data flows has arguably been a huge weight on the shoulders of British companies given the potential cost and inconvenience of having to consider and put in place the additional compliance requirements were the adequacy decisions not to be adopted. As a result, yesterday’s announcement will no doubt be welcomed with open arms.