Rejection of Safe Harbor – a chance for digital economy in Europe

Brussels, 08. October 2015 – The European Court of Justice’s decision on Tuesday 6 October to reject the Safe Harbor agreement is good news for the SME digital economy.

“In recent years, the safe harbor principle has led to an enormous distortion of competition to the disadvantage of the European digital economy. For instance while our companies in the EU member states had to meet very high requirements in order to guarantee data protection, large international IT corporations could hide behind rules of non EU countries. In the worst cases we know that thanks to the Safe Harbor some large corporations transferred our data to their government authorities outside the EU” explained Dr. Oliver Grün, President of the Federal Association of IT-SMEs of Germany (BITMi) and President of the European association of IT-SME (PIN-SME).

Until now, American companies could rely on the fact that they are not subject to European data protection regulations and therefore depend on US requirements, which allow much more processing and transferring of personal data. Grün sees the end of Safe Harbor as a great chance for the digital economy: “Now we can hope that the same conditions apply to all and, thus, we will have a level playing field with our non EU competitors. A EU general data protection regulation will unify and strengthen the data economy. We believe that this will benefit all market operators and finally the users.”

This is a good opportunity for the European digital economy, which is the field for many thousands IT SMEs, among which we have several national champions. “Now more than ever, it is high time to promote data-driven business models, such that our companies can become global leaders and Europe can foster its position in the digital value chain” emphasizes Grün, with reference to the ongoing negotiations of the EU general data protection regulation and its business-unfriendly rules.