Why is there such a desire to do business in the EU, especially in light of the new GDPR legislation with its terrible bite? Already two major corporates have their knuckles rapped in hefty fines. British Airways was hit by €205.7 million and the Marriott group 111.5 million. Interestingly, both fines were imposed by the British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The reason why the EU is still a hugely attractive marketplace is just this sophistication. Business in the EU attracts high margins, is conducted using safe commercial practices and avails of strong legal protection. Any company wishing to go up the value chain will by default have customers in the EU. The protections swing both ways.
Europe showed its hand early in 2015 when protection for its citizens began to gain attention. A Eurobarometer survey carried out by Eurostat in 2015 interviewed almost 300,000 citizens from all EU states and found that more than 81% of respondents felt that they do not have complete control over their personal data. In the same survey, just 89% of respondents believed they should have the same rights and protections over their personal information, regardless of the country in which the organisation offering the service is established. This point is critical to the workings of GDPR. Furthermore, some 69% or respondents believed that the collection of their data should require their explicit approval.
Guiding principles behind the legislation also include the protection of children with regard to data that might live online, long after injudicious behaviour has been put aside as they passaged into adulthood.
Corporates wishing to do business in the EU understand the payoff between getting access to a mature, wealthy and discerning marketplace, and a populous that demand the highest standards of privacy and data protection are met.
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