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Ireland 'made EU diplomats sleep in tents' to force data protection deal

The EU’s justice commissioner says Ireland has been more committed than most to making diplomatic progress.

Image: @IrelandRepBrussels via Twitter

IRELAND’S EU PRESIDENCY has led diplomats from other EU member states to sleep in tents, in order to maximise the time available to reach agreements on new rules for data protection, according to one of the EU’s top office-holders.

European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding, the Brussels official responsible for justice, said today that delegations from some EU states had taken to staying in tents at working groups, as they tried to get a deal over the line.

In prepared remarks, Reding said Ireland’s presidency had seen “a real data protection sprint” with 25 meetings at expert level, and five discussions of the EU member states’ permanent representatives, in trying to concoct a new Data Protection Directive to apply in all 27 member states.

“This is a remarkable achievement and deserves our strong support,” Reding said.

Ireland’s permanent representatives in Brussels later sent TheJournal.ie the image above – showing a tent pitched in a meeting room where the talks had been continuing.

Reding’s comments came after a meeting of the EU’s justice ministers in Luxembourg, the last such meeting to take place under Ireland’s sixth-month presidency of the Council.

Reding said all EU leaders were eager to see the completion of a ‘digital single market’ to apply across all member states, and said having a common set of data protection rules for each member state would go a long way towards this.

The Luxembourger called on officials from the Lithuanian presidency, which will replace Ireland next month, to keep up the momentum on the talks.

She also complimented Ireland on engineering a deal on the key aspects of new European rules on dealing with cross-border insolvencies, which had made “very good progress under the Irish presidency”.

“On a personal note, I would like to repeat my sincere thanks to Alan for his commitment as Justice Minister to making such tremendous progress on these initiatives during Ireland’s Presidency,” Reding said.

Shatter himself said Ireland had brought the negotiations on new data protection rules “further and faster” than many would have expected.

At today’s meeting, ministers also endorsed a proposal from Reding to enshrine the right to have access to a lawyer, and the right to speak to a family member, in any case where they are suspected of having committed a crime.

Read: Enda in Lithuania to prepare for presidency handover

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Gavan Reilly

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