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International organisations

International organisations with offices in Europe are in many cases exempted from national laws. This often results in a lack of a legal framework for data protection, despite the fact that there are several overlapping frameworks in Europe. The International conference addressed this issue in a resolution adopted in Sydney in 2003, calling for "international and supra-national bodies to formally commit themselves to (…) the principal international instruments dealing with data protection and privacy".

In September 2005, the EDPS organised, together with the Council of Europe and the OECD, a workshop on data protection as part of good governance in international organisations. The objective was to raise awareness of universal data protection principles and their consequences for the work in international organisations. Representatives from some 20 organisations took part in discussions on protection of personal data of staff and other people concerned. Processing of sensitive data (relating to health, refugee status, or criminal convictions) was also addressed.

A tool-kit was developed for the 2005 workshop.


A second workshop was organised by the European Patent Office in Munich in March 2007. Representatives from international organisations then discussed issues of common relevance such as the role of an internal and independent data protection officer, how to establish a data protection regime and challenges of international cooperation with entities having different data protection standards.

third workshop took place in the European University Institute of Florence, on 27-28 May 2010. This workshop, bringing together various international organisations as well as professors in a separate academic session, aimed at tackling some pervasive issues concerning privacy and data protection.

Topics covered during the conference included data processing in commercial operations, methods of monitoring compliance and third-country transfers of data. Furthermore, data protection as a fundamental right was discussed, along with the use of personal data in counter-terrorism, and the difficulties in balancing the data protection with freedom of expression.

The fourth workshop was organised by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) together with our support on 8-9 November 2012 in Brussels. It was a forum to discuss data protection within international organisations and assembled professionals from EU institutions and bodies and international organisations to share best practice. Several panels moderated by representatives of both the EDPS and the WCO took place over the two day event. These were an opportunity to update participants on recent developments relevant for international organisations, including those on the European data protection reform package, compliance and transfers of data to third parties, the processing of staff data, security breach and notification and cloud computing. The workshop was once again successful in facilitating exchange between the participants, contributing to even greater cooperation and sharing of experiences between DPOs of EU institutions and bodies and relevant staff of other international organisations.

The fifth workshop jointly organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the EDPS will take place on 5 February 2016 in Geneva.

  • 25 March 2017

    60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties. Giovanni Buttarelli to participate in the meeting of the 27 EU heads of state and heads of European Union institutions in Rome, Italy.

  • 15 March 2017

    Data Protection and the EU institutions. Read the latest blogpost by Giovanni Buttarelli and the EDPS Opinion.

  • 15 March 2017

    EDPS sees opportunity for stronger consumer and data protection. Read the EDPS Opinion and the press release.

  • 13 March 2017

    2018 International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners to be hosted in Brussels. Read the press statement.

  • 07 March 2017

    EDPS calls for consistent improvements in the approach to EU border policy. Read the EDPS Opinion and the press release.

  • 28 March 2017

    Giovanni Buttarelli meeting with Greg Nojeim, Senior Counsel and Director, Freedom, Security and Technology Project, Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), Brussels, Belgium

  • 28 March 2017

    Giovanni Buttarelli meeting with Cornelia Ernst, MEP, Brussels, Belgium

  • 27 March 2017

    Processing of personal data  by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, Study group meeting, EESC, Participation of Giovanni Buttarelli, Brussels Belgium

  • 25 March 2017

    60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties, Participation of Giovanni Buttarelli in the meeting of the 27 EU heads of state and heads of European Union institutions, Rome, Italy

  • 23 March 2017

    Forum on International Privacy Law, Participation of Wojciech Wiewiórowski, Königstein, Germany

  • 23 March 2017

    Participation of Giovanni Buttarelli in DAPIX, Brussels, Belgium

  • 23 March 2017

    Concurrences Review, Law & Economics Workshop: Big Data, Speech by Giovanni Buttarelli, Brussels, Belgium

  • 13 March 2017

    Regulating Privacy through Ethical Standards and Accountability Principles in the era of Big Data, Keynote speech of Wojciech Wiewiórowski: Towards a new digital ethics – data, dignity and technology: How to ensure accountability in personal data management?, Brussels, Belgium