Tag: EU

By Harry Pettit for MailOnline 

An ’embarrassing’ leak shows the European Union has fallen short of its own data protection laws.

The European Commission’s website has published 700 records, including the names, addresses and mobile numbers of conference attendees, according to a report.

Officials in Brussels admitted the authority that designed the rules is not itself compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The Commission has previously warned that those who breach these rules, which came into force last week, could face millions in fines.

Following the leak, a spokesperson said the authority was exempt from GDPR laws for ‘legal reasons’.

Officials in Brussels will follow a similar set of new laws that ‘mirror’ those laid out in GDPR.

These rules will not enter force until autumn, according to the Telegraph.

The spokesperson added that the Commission is ‘taking and will continue to take all the necessary steps to comply’.

GDPR aims to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the EU, which means cracking down on how companies use and sell user data.

Under GDPR, companies are required to report data breaches within 72 hours, as well as allow customers to export their data and delete it.

Companies scrambled to comply with the rules before they were ratified on May 25 with the Commission threatening hefty fines for those who breached them.

The bureaucracy’s website exposed 700 records that include people’s names, professions, and even some postcodes and addresses.

Officials in Brussels admitted the authority that designed the rules is not itself compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR aims to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the EU.

The records, some of which featured the private information of Britons, were collected during EU meetings and conferences and stored on data spreadsheets.

Tech website Indivigital found the documents are among thousands hosted by the website Europa.eu that are freely accessible online.

Many of them could be found by simply searching for the document on Google.

This leak would constitute a breach of GDPR rules were the blunder committed by other organisations or businesses.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation is an EU-wide law that cam into force on May 25 2018.

It gives greater power to regulators to penalise companies who mishandle personal data or are not transparent about how their business uses it.

For consumers, it brings new powers that require firms to obtain clear consent from users before processing their data.

It also grants users a right to easily access the data collected from them and transparency on how it is being used.

Everyday users have to do very little to comply with GDPR – it’s more targeted at big online businesses.

Under the new rules, any company that controls or processes the data of EU citizens must adhere to the GDPR guidelines.

This ends territorial-based accountability used by some firms not based in the EU to previously avoid sanction.

The law also states that notification of a data breach must occur within 72 hours of being first discovered, increasing transparency around leaks.

The weight of fines able to be issued has also increased under GDPR.

Regulators will be able to issue penalties equivalent of up to four per cent of annual global turnover or 20 million euro (£17.5 million) – whichever is greater.

For tech giants such as Google and Facebook, this could mean the risk of fines running into the hundreds of millions.

Fines for such a breach can reach up to £17.5 million ($23 million) or four per cent of global turnover – whichever is largest.

Jon Baines, a data protection expert at law firm Mishcon de Reya, described the ‘irony’ of the EU’s admission.

‘Although the information disclosed here does not appear to be particularly sensitive, it does raise questions about the general level of compliance, and whether any further inadvertent disclosures have been made,’ he told the Telegraph.

Steve Gailey, security expert at database security firm Exabeam, added that the exposure ‘is embarrassing for the EU, coming hot on the heels of GDPR’.

Britain leaves the EU

Prime Minister Theresa May has signed the Article 50 letter of notification that she will send to the European Union on Wednesday to formally get Brexit underway.

May was pictured in Downing Street on Wednesday evening adding her signature to the historic letter, which will formally notify the European Commission of Britain’s departure from the EU.

The letter will be handed to European Council President Donald Tusk at 12:30 p.m (BST) tomorrow by British ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow, immediately after May finishes debating Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in this week’s instalment of Prime Minister’s Questions.

A two-year process of negotiations will then get underway where May and her negotiating team will try to come to a divorce agreement with EU figures. The discussions are set to cover how much Britain must pay the EU as part of its divorce settlement and what long-term free trade deal — if any — can be finalised before the two-year window expires.

Britain is set to officially drop out of the EU no later than March, 2019.

In an address to Parliament on Wednesday, May is set to call on the country to “come together” and support a “truly global Britain” as the nation braces itself to leave the 28-nation bloc after nearly half a century of being a member.

The prime minister is expected to say:

“When I sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead, I will represent every person in the whole United Kingdom – young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country and all the villages and hamlets in between.

“And yes, those EU nationals who have made this country their home.

“It is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country.

“For, as we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests and ambitions can – and must – bring us together.

“We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today. We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed.

“We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. We all want to live in a truly Global Britain that gets out and builds relationships with old friends and new allies around the world.

“These are the ambitions of this Government’s Plan for Britain. Ambitions that unite us, so that we are no longer defined by the vote we cast, but by our determination to make a success of the result.

“We are one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future.

“And, now that the decision has been made to leave the EU, it is time to come together.”

Source: www.businessinsider.com

The rand remained the worst performing emerging market currency on Monday 27 June, but an analyst said there is a silver lining for the local unit.

It continued to show its volatile nature on Monday, after losses against the dollar swung between 2% and 8,5% on Friday.

By 08:30, the rand was 4.25% lower against the dollar at R15.19 and 4% higher against the pound at R20.35.

The harsh swings are in reaction to the UK’s vote to exit the European Union, which caused extreme volatility in most emerging market currencies, but especially the rand.

“It is difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel and that is reflected in the pound this morning, as it trades down below 1.34, over 2% lower,” says Adam Phillips of Umkhulu Consulting.

“This has dragged the euro down by 0,83% and the rand is leading the emerging market currencies lower.

“Gold continues to shine with the yen and the former might help us in South Africa a little, although other commodities are staying on the fence.”

Rand Merchant Bank analyst John Cairns says not all is negative in a note on Monday.

“The silver lining for the rand remains that global monetary conditions will be easier after the Brexit vote,” he says.

“Fed futures, amazingly, have completely priced out further hikes this year and are even toying with the idea that the Fed could cut rates.

“Further ECB (European Central Bank) and BoJ (Bank of Japan) easing is all but assured. Switzerland has already reacted with currency intervention on Friday.”

The victory for Brexit tore through world markets on Friday, pummelling the pound and high-yielding assets as more than $2.5trn was wiped from global equity values. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned without spelling out when the UK intends to leave the EU, and eight members of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s team quit amid calls for his ouster.

US Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Brussels and then London on Monday as Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland – whose people voted to stay in the EU – teases the possibility of a second referendum on independence from the UK.

The next days and weeks will likely be key for central banks as they seek to limit volatility in financial markets. The European Central Bank is hosting a three-day meeting in Sintra, Portugal that will include speeches from its president, Mario Draghi, and Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host European Council president Donald Tusk in Berlin on Monday to talk about the UK’s plan to exit the bloc.
Cairns says the result of uncertainty is volatility. “Expect jittery and ragged trade in global markets through this week, implying the risks of severe rand weakness are not over yet.

“The UK may be tearing itself apart,” he says. “Opponents of Brexit have called for another referendum, a re-Brexit, and are arguing for Parliament to vote to stay in the EU.

“Scotland wants another independence referendum. And both the Labour and Conservative Parties are in turmoil. Reflecting the uncertainty… some market participants are calling for further 5% to 10% losses (in the pound to dollar losses).

“The bigger threat is that Europe might also be torn apart,” he says. “As expected, independence parties from across the union have called for their own countries to hold referendums.

“Do we get Departugal, Italeave, Czechout, Oustria, Finish, Slovlong, Latervia, Buygium and no more Germania? These are not minor concerns.”

By Matthew le Cordeur and Bloomberg for Fin24

At the time of writing, the rand was appreciating. Why? Because the latest opinion polls out of the UK pertaining to the vexed Brexit issue were more favourable to the “remain” side. This referendum is therefore of critical importance not only to the UK and Europe, but also to us here at the southern tip of Africa.

Currency issues seem to loom large in any discussion about the domestic economy. And a Brexit or ‘leave’ can flesh open a fresh wave of rand volatility detrimental to our already ailing economy.

Emerging markets are already under strain. The Brexit threat adds global uncertainty and a potential capital (and currency) flight to safer havens. While sterling may well devalue immediately after any Brexit vote, it is the US dollar that may strengthen, thereby affecting the ZAR.

South Africa simply cannot afford a further decline in the rand/dollar value. Coupled with the threats of rating agency downgrades towards the end of the year, a new era of currency volatility not related to our domestic political economy is clearly a danger.

To kickstart the flagging foreign direct investment needed to grow our economy, South Africa needs not only to be attractive to domestic political and economic policy, but also requires a broader ‘risk averse’ global investor climate.
Clearly, any Brexit-induced shock to the international financial system will do us no favours.

It is often said that a fair proportion of the value of our currency is reflective of international macro-economic and sentiment-driven trends. Indeed, a Brexit vote will not only create currency instability, but it can also precipitate a sense of unease within the existing European Union over a host of member countries and even national regions which are increasingly sceptical of the entire EU project. The EU certainly does not need to encourage a rising tide of nationalism that a Brexit vote may fuel.

A Brexit vote could lead to other national referenda and in an already emotionally charged atmosphere in Europe, with security, immigration and debt concerns looming large, a weakened or balkanised EU would further hamper any recovery in global trade – already pretty lacklustre. South Africa too would bear the brunt of this as the EU continues to be its major trading partner.

Trade remains at of the heart of the UK-SA relationship. Any Brexit vote would hamper levels of trade between UK-based companies and South Africa as a result of negative economic consequences on London. Our country would
also be harmed by the possible renegotiation of trade agreements between the UK and her EU counterparts.

If the preferential trade agreements which form the cornerstone of the EU are diminished as a result of any UK exit, this will surely have a knock-on effect here in South Africa. After all, South Africa remains the UK’s largest African trading partner and while it has slipped lower on our domestic radar screens in terms of export trade, the UK remains our seventh largest import and export market in global terms (2014 figures).

Although some have speculated on what this might mean in terms of a direct statistical effect on our GDP, it’s the unintended consequences of any Brexit that pose a greater risk to our domestic economy.

So it will be a tense week for both politicians and markets in both the developed and emerging economies. The ramifications of a domestic vote in the UK are global, emphasising the interconnectivity of the UK economy in a much more globalised world.

Making predictions are always risky, but given the high level of uncertainty as to what a Brexit might mean for a voter in Manchester or Edinburgh, it may just be that the voters opt for the old adage of ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know’.

After all, the EU was always a risky experiment and leaving it would be just the same.

By Daniel Silke for Fin24

Staples’ proposed takeover of Office Depot has been approved by European regulators after the US office supplies retailer agreed to sell some of the European operations of its smaller rival.

The approval comes two months after the US antitrust regulator filed a complaint to block the $6,3-billion deal on concerns that it would reduce competition for nationwide contracts for office supplies in the United States.

Global reaction

Staples said that it agreed to sell Office Depot’s contract distribution business in Europe and all operations in Sweden.

The companies will also divest Office Depot’s retail, online and catalogue operations in Europe.

“The commitments remove the entire overlap between the merging companies in all markets where concerns were raised, thus ensuring that an important alternative will remain available on these highly concentrated markets,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Besides the litigation with the US Federal Trade Commission, the companies are facing heavy scrutiny from the Canadian Competition Bureau.

Staples had said it was willing to continue talks with the FTC to address the regulator’s concerns.

The acquisition has been approved in Australia, New Zealand, China and Europe.

By Foo Yun Chee and Abhijith Ganavaparam for www.reuters.com

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