Originally, the European Economic Community was just a community that enabled easy trading between the participating members, set up in 1957 by the Treaty of Rome.
Given that Europe is relative small, geographically speaking, and has multiple land borders, simplifying the business of doing business with neighbours made sense.
Over time this has lead to an expansion of its jurisdiction by a considerable amount, with common laws, common currency and even talks about a common army.
There even is a national anthem for the European Union, and which, this year, the Brexiter Candidates from the UK refused to honour, instead preferring to turn their backs, stating that the EU was a collation of nations, and not a nation-state in its own right.
UK leaving the EU
The UK may be leaving the European Union on October 31st 2019, if Britain’s newly elected prime minister Boris Johnson can be trusted, even if there is no negotiated exit. This promise is already heavily debated, as any decision needs to be agreed upon in Westminster and no further reopening of negotiations is being tolerated by the EU.
However, no matter what will happen to Britain, it still has to abide by the newly installed GDPR regulations if it wishes to continue to do business within the EU.
In that sense, Britain will be joining the rest of the world looking to do business within EU markets. The emphasis on protecting EU citizens of these new regulations seriously affects how non-EU businesses must operate within the EU.
But why is there still such a desire to do business in the EU, especially considering the new GDPR legislation with its terrible bite? Already two major corporations have their have been given hefty fines. British Airways was hit with a whopping €205.7 million fine, and the Marriott group has been given a €111.5 million fine. Interestingly, both fines were imposed by the British Information Commissioner’s Office.
The reason why the EU is still a hugely attractive marketplace, is the sophistication of the EU markets. Business in the EU attracts high margins, is conducted using safe commercial practices and benefits from strong legal protection. Any company wishing to go up the value chain can not ignore customers in the EU. The protections work both ways.
Data privacy as a right
Europe showed its hand at the start of 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 that same survey, 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 fundamental for GDPR. Furthermore, 69% or respondents believed that the collection of their data should be explicitly approved.
Guiding principles behind the legislation also include the protection of children with regard to data that might continue to live online, long after their youtful behaviour has been put aside as they enter their adulthood.
Enterprises adjusting to the new rules
Corporations wishing to do business in the EU understand the payoff between getting access to a mature, wealthy and discerning marketplace, and a rising demand for the highest standards of privacy and data protection.
It can be a tricky at times.
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer also addresses the increasing demand for trust – whether enshrined in law or desired by surveyed stakeholders.
Trust is not enough
Trust is a slippery connotation. The Edelman report points to a dramatic shift in trust levels over the past two decades.Twenty years ago, trust trickled down from above, but has been largely discredited since.
Ten years ago, subjects surveyed by Edelman looked to peers for trust. This year, the search for trust has swivelled dramatically to the respondents for closer relationships with their employers in order to find trust.
The increasing dependence on trust is not without conditions either. Respondents demand that employers act well, that they deliver for society and not just the shareholders, and ultimately, they called upon their employers to speak up for, and on their behalf. Interestingly, technology employers still feature as the most trusted sector – but only just.
The tech lash is happening, although respondents are increasingly differentiating between social media tech giants and companies that deliver other tech solutions.
Europe remains the most trusted place to do business, trust in the European Union increased in 22 out of 26 nations surveyed globally by Edelman, making Europe the most trusted region globally.
Data protection and trust go hand in hand
Which brings us back to personal data and its protection. To operate one of the most trusted business environments globally, the citizens of that marketplace also have to be protected.
The irony is that the two large fines, first out of the tracks, relate to centralised databases and the management of same. Both corporations enjoy high levels of brand awareness and trust – but they were let down by their technology.
If there was a way to hold data in a trusted manner and not accessible to easy hacking, that would be a great idea.
Oh, there is.
Meet Europechain, a purpose built EU enterprise blockchain…
Trust in a trustless world.