Government asks parliament to fast-track data privacy bill

Debate on a draft justice ministry bill on data privacy began in the Greek parliament on Friday, with Greece facing referral to the European Court of Justice and large fines for its delay in incorporating EU legislation on the processing of private information into national law. In light of the potential financial burden on taxpayers, the government has requested fast-track processing of the bill in parliament.

Presenting the case for fast-tracking the bill to the Standing Committee for Public Administration, Public Order and Justice, Justice Minister Kostas Tsiaras noted that Greece has already been referred to the European court on this issue and, in the case of a conviction, could face a one-off fine of 1.3 million euros and a daily fine of 5,287 euros. If the case goes to appeal, he added, the daily fine could rise to 22,169 euros.

The chairman of the committee Maximos Harakopoulos confirmed that the procedures at the European Commission to impose fines on Greece have already been initiated and are quite advanced, agreeing that the bill needed to be fast-tracked but urging the government to ensure prompt harmonisation with EU legislation to avoid this necessity.

The request was also backed by the ruling majority’s rapporteur Giorgos Kotsiras but opposed by all parties in the opposition.

Main opposition SYRIZA rapporteur George Katrougalos said that the debate on the bill should follow the standard procedure since the incorporation of the data privacy directive “creates many problems that led to the non-valid vote on its incorporation by the previous government”.

The committee’s discussion of the draft bill ended with a vote approving the proposed legislation, which was supported by ND and the opposition Movement for Change (KINAL) party. Concerns were raised by SYRIZA, Elliniki Lysi and MeRA25 while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voted against.

The draft bill will be tabled for discussion by the plenary on Monday, by which time Tsiaras expects the opposition parties to submit their proposals for improvements to the bill.

Underlining the need to update Greece’s legislative framework on protecting data privacy, “which does not meet any protection need today,” Tsiaras also informed the committee that the prime minister has given instructions to wrap up all outstanding matters relating to the European Union during the summer.