When the EU signs a data transfer deal with another economic bloc, it’s normally a European Commission bigwig (think Vice President Vera Jourova or Justice Chief Didier Reynders) who gets the credit.
Bruno Gencarelli, on the other hand, is the one who made it happen.
Gencarelli, as the Commission’s lead negotiator for these agreements, faces a difficult task: allowing Europe to play a vital role in global digital trade while ensuring that people’ rights are not infringed in the process.
It’s not always simple to achieve the right balance.
EU judges have invalidated two data transfer agreements involving the Italian official, both with the US, for failing to adequately protect Europeans from Washington’s monitoring tactics.
He’s currently working on putting together a third.
The stakes are high: a deal will determine the fate of billions of euros in digital transatlantic trade.
A third annulment would seriously jeopardize Europe’s capacity to set the tone for global data flows.
Bringing digital trade with the United States back to life and controlling it
Gencarelli’s mission is far from complete.
He’s also played a significant role in building digital relations with the United Kingdom following Brexit, which hasn’t gone well.
The EU-UK data-flows pact drew harsh condemnation from both sides, and the Commission’s methods, which included putting tremendous pressure on privacy regulators and MEPs to get the deal through, raised some eyebrows in Brussels.
THINGS TO WATCH FOR THIS YEAR: Gencarelli is having a tremendous year.
In addition to reviving a U.S.
Dealing with data flows and completing the U.K.
Gencarelli will have to determine if a comparable agreement can be reached with South Korea, as well as assess a number of existing data-flow choices with nations including Israel and Argentina.
COMPROMISE IS THEIR SUPERPOWER.
Gencarelli is under continual pressure from all sides, including foreign governments, corporate interests, privacy campaigners, and even MEPs, and must constantly seek a middle ground between all of their concerns.
SCORE OF INFLUENCE: 16/30