Complete Independence of national Data Protection Supervisory Authorities: About persons, czars and data governance in Belgian debates
There is a beautiful debate about the independence of the national Data Protection Authority (DPA) in Belgium and there is a European dimension to it. While many independent administrative authorities have been created by EU law, the authorities in EU data protection law are special: (1) they are active in enforcing fundamental rights while the others are mostly active in market regulation and (2) their independence is guaranteed by EU primary law since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter.
The European Commission now pursues legal action against Belgium about lack of independence of the Data Protection Authority, but the Belgium government is reluctant to see the problem. While the infringement procedure is steaming up, one of the directors of the Belgian DPA steps up, dissatisfied with attempts to make the DPA more ‘complete independent’. What is happening? What follows is an attempt to clarify a complex multilevel interplay, topped with a sauce of Belgian surrealism. Essential documents, both on the EU side and on the Belgian side, are not public. Hence, the wealth of references to journals by the author. The story unfolds in a surprising way, without a definitive plot. Slow reading with a pleasure for the anecdotical, but a concern for the fundamental is recommended.