Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Local and regional governments as service providers

​Data protection - 24.06.2015

Local government cannot be treated as internet giants
Ahead of the opening of the trilogues to revise the EU’s data protection rules, we call on negotiators to consider the impact of the revision on the public sector. At CEMR, we support reform of the data protection rules to guarantee our citizens’ rights, while increasing business opportunities in the Digital Single Market. Unfortunately, the proposed text does not meet public administration requirements and has been drawn up solely with private sector needs in mind.

In a letter sent to negotiators, representatives from the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the Parliament, we draw attention to the issues that might be dangerous for municipalities and regions:

Flexibility for the public sector is crucial

The public sector uses personal data to provide services for public general interest, such as allotting house allowances, and not for commercial purposes as the giants from the private sector, like Google, Amazon or Facebook. This major discrepancy in the use of data protection calls for a differentiated approach between the public and private sector at legislative level.

Regulation should not lead to disproportionate costs and administrative burden for local government 

Costs of implementation of the Regulation have been estimated up to €292 million/year (£250 million) in the UK, €200 million in the first years in Finnish local and regional authorities and at least €80,5 million for Danish local authorities. Local and regional governments oppose any new provision which would force them, for example, to hire inordinate data officers, to significantly invest in ICT services and to (re)train their staff, without there being clear added-value for citizens or for improved delivery of public services. The new Regulation must lead to a positive cost-benefit ratio. 

The digitalisation of public administrations can transform the traditional public services into more citizen-oriented high quality services, for instance through the use of open data, electronic archives or cloud services. However, the evolution to e-government should not be hampered by unsuitable data protection rules. 
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