The European Commission will hold at least two meetings in the coming months to try to ensure harmony between European and US data protection laws.
The EC's director general for financial services and the internal market, John Mogg, and senior US officials are scheduled to meet twice before the EU's data protection directive comes into force on 24 October.
The meetings are the latest in a series, aimed at ensuring that US legislation will be sufficient to meet the directive's demand that EU personal data can be sent only to countries with a similar level of protection.
"As a member of the EU, implementing the directive is a duty to fulfil. They will certainly be some difficulties, but we have no experience yet as to how big the problem will be. Theoretically, we are in harmonious agreement," said a member of the EU working party putting the directive in place.
A number of non-EU states do not have laws with equivalent strength to the directive. The US is introducing a number of voluntary guidelines on industry practice and may introduce further legislation to ensure privacy is enforced.
"Both the EU and the US knew that laws on privacy would have to be assessed. Fears of a trade war are unfounded. On the contrary, there is growing recognition in the US that it needs to have safeguards as well," said a Commission source.
"This is very new in the US. In the past, there was a tendency to dismiss the need for personal data protection. It was regarded as red tape. The US industry has never been keen to have binding regulations," he went on.
The EU is more concerned about the effectiveness of US measures, than whether they are legislative or voluntary. But it stresses that pressure to introduce laws will be brought to bear on the US.
"Issues surrounding the transfer of medical, employment and financial data are the areas where we will be concentrating our efforts the most," another Commission source said.
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