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On March 30, 2019, at 12 midnight, the United Kingdom will become a “third country” for many matters and particularly with regard to international data protection and transfers. However, this will not affect any transitional arrangement that may be contained in the withdrawal agreement. The European Union (EU) Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers issued a notice to the effect on January 9, 2018.

The United Kingdom submitted the notification of its intention to withdraw from the Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on March 29, 2017. The most immediate consequence is that, unless the withdrawal agreement establishes another date, European Union law will cease to apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019, at 12 midnight (‘the withdrawal date’). The United Kingdom will then become a “third country.”

This means that the transfer of personal data from the European Union to the United Kingdom will be subject to greater restrictions, which will affect service providers—including hosting services—and companies that transfer client or employee personal data to their parent companies or subsidiaries in the United Kingdom.

Subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in the withdrawal agreement, as of the withdrawal date, the EU rules for the transfer of personal data to third countries will apply. In these cases, the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 allows controllers or processors to carry out international transfers in these circumstances:

  1. when they have an “adequacy decision” from the European Commission;
  2. when the controller or processor offers appropriate safeguards for data protection and the stakeholders have enforceable rights and effective legal actions (i.e., binding corporate rules, model clauses adopted by the Commission or by a control authority, and contractual clauses authorized by a control authority); or
  3. in specific cases when data transfer without appropriate safeguards is allowed (including with consent, for the performance of a contract, and for reasons of public interest).

 

This decision is in line with many others that will affect the international relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

We will continue to keep a close eye on the development of this and other issues that will be addressed in the final withdrawal agreement, which will doubtlessly constitute the basis of future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

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adaya.esteban@cuatrecasas.com

Asociado

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Jorge Monclús

jorge.monclus@cuatrecasas.com

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