Article 29 Working Party on the protection of personal data

Pursuant to the Belgian Act of 8 December 1992 (Privacy Act) the Privacy Commission ensures that the fundamental right to personal data protection is respected. In application of Directive 95/46/EC every EU Member State must establish such an authority. These data protection authorities meet in the context of the Article 29 Working Party on the protection of personal data (also abbreviated as Article 29 Working), which has been given this name because it was established in application of article 29 of Directive 95/46/EC.

The Article 29 Working Party is an independent European working party that deals with issues relating to the protection of privacy and personal data. The data protection authorities of the 28 EU Member States are members of the Working Party. Therefore, the Privacy Commission is also is a part of it. Apart from the EU member states, the European Data Protection Supervisor also participates in the Working Group's activities.

The member states of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) have the status of  observer in this group, as well as a number of candidate Member States (e.g. former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). The “Data Protection” section of the Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security of the European Commission is in charge of the Working Party's administration and clerical tasks.

The Article 29 Working Party's missions comprise all issues related to the application of national provisions that were adopted in implementation of Directive 95/46/EC (“Data Protection” directive) and Directive 2002/58/EC (“Electronic communications” directive).

The Article 29 Working Party regularly issues opinions, publishes working documents and resolutions on different topics related to the protection of privacy and personal data, aiming towards a harmonised application of these directives in the 27 EU Member States. The Article 29 Working Party is also in charge of providing expert opinions to the European Commission and on codes of conduct at Community level.

The opinions and other documents of the Article 29 Working Party are public and can be consulted on its website. Some of them are subject to a public consultation round, in which anyone can put forward a position on the subject matter. The Article 29 Working Party draws up a two-yearly work plan, and its yearly activity report is also public and available online.

The Article 29 Working Party holds a two-day plenary session in the EU buildings in Brussels five times every year. Important preparatory work takes place in the different working parties dedicated to specific subjects. The Privacy Commission and its secretariat actively participate in the activities of the different working parties dealing with matters such as medical data processing, new information and communication technologies and transborder data flows.