The draft general regulation on data protection, which is set to replace a directive dating back to 1995, adapting it to the internet era, is moving forward at the European Parliament. Rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens-EFA, Germany) is banking on a vote by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) by the end of April.

The Committee on Industry gave a favourable opinion on the report. What kind of support does your report - which is far more protective of the rights of consumers - have within the LIBE committee?

The LIBE committee is still collecting amendments. From March, we will be able to start work on reaching compromises. But I will not force the political groups to reach common positions. Still, I think that all the groups in LIBE agree on most of the points of my report. I also think they have a better sense of the balance between the interests of the industry and those of the citizens. I don't see them going different ways, as was the case in the Committees on Industry and on the Internal Market. Within these two committees, I don't think the rapporteurs have tried to reach compromises, so the vote reflects the opinion of part of their members. Generally speaking, industry has to understand that future rules on data protection will not clash with innovation and growth but will be a prerequisite for it.

How much of a problem is business lobbying against what you are working on?

The problem with this massive lobbying, which essentially comes from US enterprises, is that it isn't representative of the reality of the matter because many EU businesses are in favour of the future rules. They already respect the current rules. And they know that the new rules could potentially make them more competitive as consumers will be more likely to trust them.

SMEs are worried at the idea of having to name a data protection officer, in the same way as bigger companies will have to. SMEs argue that the costs would be unacceptable. Are you prepared to relax your position?

I am always open to dialogue and to adapting my proposals. The national data protection authorities would like to have a single contact within companies, but I am prepared to talk about how to do that.

Do you feel that the Council of Ministers wants to move forward on this? Does it want to do that as fast as the European Parliament?

This proposal was made because the Council and Parliament asked the Commission for a single set of rules in the Union with...

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