Yesterday, the European Parliament gave its backing to the European Commission’s data protection reform ahead of European elections in May, with 621 votes in favor, ten against, and 22 abstentions for the proposed Regulation. This vote means the position of the Parliament is now set in stone and will not change even if the composition of the Parliament changes following the elections.

For those struggling to keep track of exactly what stage the reform has reached, there is now just one final hurdle the proposed Regulation needs to clear to become law –adoption by the Council of Ministers using the “ordinary legislative procedure” (co-decision).

In a press release, the European Parliament said it “stands ready to negotiate with the Council of the EU as soon as the Council defines its position.” Last Tuesday (4 March 2014), Justice Ministers in the Council met to discuss this issue amongst others, and their next meeting on the data protection reform will take place in June 2014.

It has been a long and drawn-out process since 25th January 2012, when the Commission first proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU’s 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online data protection rights and boost Europe’s digital economy (see IP/12/46).

There have been many delays and over 3000 amendments. However, there appears to be no lack of momentum at this stage, and businesses in the EU and the US should continue to pay close attention to the debate and the potential consequences for their business.