BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Friday Britain's data protection laws were in line with the European Union's despite Brexit and it would start a process to allow a continued flow of police and financial data from the EU to Britain for the next 4 years.
Financial data flows are crucial for businesses and police and intelligence services on both sides to be able to exchange records, even though EU data protection laws no longer bind Britain after it left the bloc last year.
But London had already incorporated the EU regulations into its own laws on personal data protection and the EU would now only check again in four years to see if they had not diverged from the EU during that time before another extension.
"Ensuring free and safe flow of personal data is crucial for businesses and citizens on both sides of the Channel. The UK has left the EU, but not the European privacy family," Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova said.
"At the same time, we should ensure that our decision will stand the test of time. This is why we included clear and strict mechanisms in terms of both monitoring and review, suspension or withdrawal of such decisions, to address any problematic development of the UK system after the adequacy would be granted," she said.
Before the EU formally grants the adequacy status to British laws, it still needs to consult its European Data Protection Board and get a green light from a committee composed of representatives of EU governments.
This should be completed before the end of June, when an interim arrangement for data flows after Brexit ends.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by John Chalmers)