NordForsk supports Science Europe’s statement on EU data regulation

17.07.2013
The NordForsk board recently decided to support the statement from Science Europe on the EU’s upcoming European General Data Protection Regulation. “It is of utmost importance to harmonise the existing legal framework in order to facilitate cross-border data sharing and research cooperation,” says Gunnel Gustafsson, Director of NordForsk.

The EU is in the process of revising the current EU Data Protection Directive. The expanded law, known as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), must be implemented by all EU member states as well as the Nordic EEA countries of Norway and Iceland. The regulation has been the topic of intense debate within the EU. One key issue has been the need to reconcile the safe processing of personal data for scientific research with the protection of individual privacy rights.


NordForsk supports Science Europe

Science Europe, an association of European research funding and research performing organisations including the Academy of Finland and the Swedish Research Council, among others, has prepared a position statement on the new EU regulation which emphasises the need for provisions that facilitate scientific research. NordForsk, a Nordic organisation with responsibility for Nordic research and research policy cooperation, supports the position statement, provided that the term “scientific research” is interpreted as research conducted by universities and research institutions as opposed to commercial actors.


Sharing data is vital

“Today’s grand societal challenges are borderless and need to be addressed by joint research efforts conducted in collaboration and across borders,” says Ms Gustafsson. “Such research increasingly relies on the sharing of data between researchers from different countries. The new European regulation will help to facilitate data sharing for scientific research, while respecting the privacy of individuals at the same time.”


Access to data from more countries

According to Ms Gustafsson, researchers should have access to databases located in not only one but several countries as a way of enhancing the quality of research and drawing important conclusions. “This is knowledge that will benefit the public’s health and well-being in the future,” she says. “Therefore, NordForsk gives its support to Science Europe’s position statement regarding research conducted by universities and research institutions,” the director concludes.

The European Data Protection Regulation is expected to be debated in the European Parliament in autumn 2013. Once approved, the regulation will be directly applicable in all member states.

Text: Anne B. Heieraas

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