The Article 29 Working Party is composed of representatives of the national data protection authorities (DPA), the EDPS and the European Commission. It is a very important platform for cooperation, and its main tasks are to:
Provide expert advice from the national level to the European Commission on data protection matters.
Promote the uniform application of
Directive 95/46 in all Member States of the EU, as well as in Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland;
Advise the Commission on any European Community law (so called first pillar), that affects the right to protection of personal data.
Five plenary meetings are organised in Brussels every year. However, the Working Party also progresses on issues through work in subgroup meetings. An example of this is the Internet Task Force (ITF), which addresses the challenges of the Internet and similar technological issues. A closed website for authorities to share relevant information is another tool for regular work.
As a member of the Working Party, the EDPS participates in its policy making role by actively contributing to common positions and joint opinions. However, the EDPS also exercises his advisory role on new EU legislation through his own opinions. So far, there have been a few cases of partly overlapping advice. One such example was on the highly controversial data retention directive, where the EDPS issued his own opinion and participated in the development of the Working Party Opinion.
The European Commission provides the secretariat of the Working Party, and hosts a website where adopted documents and other relevant information, such as on standard contractual clauses, can be found.