European Data Protection Supervisor

In application of the Belgian Act of 8 December 1992 (Privacy Act) the Privacy Commission watches over the respect of the right to personal data protection, like it is done by its European counterparts with respect to the national regulations in each of the 27 EU Member States. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) is a similar independent authority that, pursuant to Regulation 45/2001, watches over the right to personal data protection in the administration of the European Union.

The EDPS's main task consists of protecting individuals whose personal data are processed by Community institutions or bodies – such as the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament but also, for example, the Court of Justice, the Committee of the Regions or the European Investment Bank – and advising these institutions on data protection in a wide range of  areas of activity.

As a body with the power of oversight the EDPS receives complaints from EU personnel, as well as from other persons who believe that their personal data have not been processed correctly by a Community institution or body. The EDPS is not competent for national issues, however.

The EDPS issues opinions both on new draft legislative texts and non-binding instruments such as communications, to the extent they impactdata protection.  Its opinions are public and available on its website. The EDPS also publishes comments, writes letters and gives presentations on specific topical subjects, for example in the committees of the European Parliament.  Finally, the EDPS has the right to intervene in cases submitted to the Court of Justice of the European Communities, the Court of First Instance and the Civil Service Tribunal.

The EDPS qualifies the third part of its activities as "cooperation", which is either punctual or structural cooperation with other data protection authorities. The most important form of cooperation within the European Union is the Article 29 Working Party, in which the Belgian Privacy Commission also takes part. For third pillar activities of the European Union, which cover police and judicial cooperation, the EDPS promotes data protection by participating in the activities of the Working Party on Police and Justice, as does the Belgian Privacy Commission.

Since 2004 the EDPS has ensured supervision of the central authority of Eurodac, a database which collects the fingerprints of asylum seekers and aliens residing in the EU illegally.