EU data protection supervisor: contest not over yet

By EDRi · June 4, 2003

The list of candidates for the new post of EU Data Protection Supervisor and Deputy Supervisor is shrinking. Joaquín Bayo Delgado, the contested candidate of a Conservative-Social Democrat alliance in the European Parliament (EP) risks to get pushed out of it. Bayo Delgado, the Dean of the Judges of Barcelona, will, as it seems, not be accepted by the European Council’s Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper). On 20 May, Coreper came forward with a list of four candidates. They didn’t indicate what candidate they preferred as Supervisor and which as Deputy. This list differed from the list of the EP Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee (see EDRi-gram Number 9) only in one person: instead of Bayo Delgado it favours OECD Data Protection Commissioner Anne Carblanc. Despite the efforts of the chair of the LIBE Committee, Jorge Salvador Hernández Mollár, Coreper has up to now refused to redraft its list to include Bayo Delgado, who had won a test vote in the LIBE Committee with a margin of five votes. After its session on 28 May, when some members of parliament expected a redrafted list of Council candidates, Coreper remained remarkably tight-lipped on the issue.

Out of the nine candidates presented to the LIBE committee, Bayo Delgado is the only one who has no record of commitment to Data Protection or any other Civil Liberties issues whatsoever. Hernández Mollar (Conservative), who had, together with his compatriot Anna Terrón i Cusí (Social Democrat), lobbied heavily for Bayo Delgado as Supervisor before the test vote, now seems willing to strike a deal. In the LIBE session of 2 June, Terrón ì Cusí and Hernández Mollar suggested they would be ready to accept Peter Johan Hustinx, the Dutch Data Protection Commissioner and preferred candidate of the Liberal EP Group, on the condition that Bayo Delgado would become Deputy.

Other members of parliament, among them French Conservative (MCC) Gérard Deprez, were not ready to accept this new attempt of the Spanish connection to promote their candidate. Now that both LIBE and Coreper have presented their list of favourite candidates, Deprez said, the future Supervisor as well as the Deputy should be selected from the intersection. This set contains, besides Hustinx, Council of Europe Data Protection Commissioner Waltraud Kotschy from Austria and Germany’s Deputy Data Protection Commissioner, Ulrich Dammann. A third Group around the Dutch MEPs Kathalijne Buitenweg (Greens) and Joke Swiebel (Social Democrats) attach importance to one of the posts being taken by a woman, which could be either Kotschy or Carblanc. Kotschy has applied only for the post of Supervisor and is said not to be willing to become Deputy.

On 5 June, Hernández Mollár will ask a mandate for further negotiations with Coreper from the EP’s Conference of Presidents. It is uncertain whether this high body of the parliament will give him an unconditional mandate – which he would no doubt use to carry on the struggle for Bayo – or whether he will be given a clearly defined mission.

Meanwhile, on 30 May, EDRi-member Privacy International sent an open letter to members of parliament, reminding them of the importance of the position and asking them to choose a more eminently qualified candidate.

Open letter Privacy International (30.05.2003)

(Contribution by Andreas Dietl, consultant on EU privacy issues)