By Lisa Peets
On September 10, 2014, President-elect of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, nominated his team of Commissioners. However, there is still a lack of clarity around responsibility for the data protection portfolio, including the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). It now appears that the portfolio will be coordinated among at least three Commissioners.
The Commissioner-designate for Justice, Vera Jourova, will keep primary responsibility for data protection. But unlike her predecessor (Viviane Reding), Ms Jourova will also have responsibility for consumer policy (which will move from the existing Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Affairs, referred to as SANCO); this combined competence could influence how Commissioner-designate Jourova approaches data protection issues.
The Commissioner-designate for Digital Economy and Society, Günther H. Oettinger of Germany, will coordinate with Ms Jourova on the data protection reform and will take the lead on the reform of the e-privacy Directive and cyber security issues. It remains unclear how exactly his responsibilities will be delineated, however.
Finally, both Commissioners-designate Jourova and Oettinger will be under the oversight of the proposed Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip of Estonia. Vice-President-designate Ansip will also drive both the reform of the data protection framework and the review of the Safe Harbor arrangement with the U.S.. In addition, Mr Ansip will coordinate the work of Commissioners-designate for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; and Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labor Mobility, among others. This suggests that there may be greater cross-Commission coordination vis-à-vis the GDPR than in the past.
The European Parliament will now consider individual nominations and must approve these before Commissioners can take up their new posts. The new Commissioners are expected to begin work in November.