Duty to appoint an EU repre­sen­ta­ti­ve in EU data and digi­tal law

The obli­ga­ti­on to appoint an EU repre­sen­ta­ti­ve for per­sons not resi­dent or estab­lished in the EU (or EEA) is fami­li­ar to many com­pa­nies from the area of data pro­tec­tion law. Howe­ver, such an obli­ga­ti­on can now be found in other legal acts in the area of “data and digi­tal”. This over­view pro­vi­des an over­view of the obli­ga­ti­ons for appoin­ting an EU repre­sen­ta­ti­ve in EU data and digi­tal law.

What is a representative?

In con­trast to a “cont­act point” (cf. e.g. Art. 11 f. Digi­tal Ser­vices Act), the “repre­sen­ta­ti­ve” must be domic­i­led or estab­lished – i.e. phy­si­cal­ly on site – in the Uni­on. A mere let­ter­box com­pa­ny is not suf­fi­ci­ent. Howe­ver, one and the same per­son may be a repre­sen­ta­ti­ve under dif­fe­rent legal acts and/or a repre­sen­ta­ti­ve for dif­fe­rent repre­sen­ted per­sons. It is pos­si­ble to appoint both group com­pa­nies and “exter­nal” natu­ral or legal per­sons as representatives.

First prac­ti­cal hints

Upon initi­al review of the purcha­se order obli­ga­ti­ons, the fol­lo­wing points stand out:

The role and lia­bi­li­ty of the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve are often not regu­la­ted at all or not cle­ar­ly. Howe­ver, the­re is much to be said for using for­mu­la­ti­ons such as

It is pos­si­ble to hold the legal repre­sen­ta­ti­ve lia­ble for brea­ches of obli­ga­ti­ons ari­sing from this regu­la­ti­on” (Art. 13 para. 3 DSA, cf. also Art. 17 para. 3 TCOR)

to be inter­pre­ted as mea­ning that the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve is only lia­ble for a breach of own duties and does not ful­ly assu­me the duties of the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve. The repre­sen­ta­ti­ve will hard­ly have the com­pe­ten­ces and powers of ins­truc­tion to ensu­re the ful­fill­ment of the diver­se cata­log of duties incum­bent on the repre­sen­ted par­ty (cf. only the noti­fi­ca­ti­on and redress pro­ce­du­re, inter­nal com­plaint manage­ment system and trans­pa­ren­cy report­ing obli­ga­ti­ons in the Digi­tal Ser­vices Act). Accor­ding to the view expres­sed here, the repre­sen­ted par­ty must the­r­e­fo­re only grant the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve the resour­ces and powers that are neces­sa­ry for the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve to ful­fill its expli­cit can ful­fill the enu­me­ra­ted duties.

The duties of the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve are often limi­t­ed to the duty to pro­vi­de infor­ma­ti­on and to coope­ra­te with data sub­jects and super­vi­so­ry aut­ho­ri­ties, but in some cases (espe­ci­al­ly in the draft Arti­fi­ci­al Intel­li­gence Act and the EDHS‑E) they go bey­ond this. Inso­far as the­re is talk of the representative

may be cal­led upon in [the representative’s] stead by the com­pe­tent aut­ho­ri­ties […] on any mat­ter neces­sa­ry for the rece­ipt of, com­pli­ance with, and enforce­ment of any decis­i­on made in con­nec­tion with this Ordi­nan­ce” (Art. 13(2) p. 1 Digi­tal Ser­vices Act)

Accor­ding to the abo­ve, the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve is to be clas­si­fi­ed as a recei­ving repre­sen­ta­ti­ve for the rece­ipt of reso­lu­ti­ons, but as a decla­ra­to­ry mes­sen­ger of the repre­sen­ted par­ty for the ans­we­ring of questions.

Also note­wor­t­hy is the duty of the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve pro­vi­ded for in the draft Arti­fi­ci­al Intel­li­gence Act to ter­mi­na­te his enga­ge­ment if he has suf­fi­ci­ent grounds to belie­ve that the repre­sen­ted par­ty is in breach of its obli­ga­ti­ons under the regu­la­ti­on. In such a case, he must also imme­dia­te­ly inform the com­pe­tent mar­ket sur­veil­lan­ce aut­ho­ri­ty. This obli­ga­ti­on is sur­pri­sing, sin­ce the appoint­ment of the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve is inten­ded to enable effec­ti­ve super­vi­si­on and, if neces­sa­ry, enforce­ment of the regu­la­ti­on against the repre­sen­ted par­ty. This enforce­ment would be made more dif­fi­cult as a result of the ter­mi­na­ti­on, sin­ce the repre­sen­ta­ti­ve would no lon­ger be eli­gi­ble as an agent for ser­vice of the repre­sen­ted par­ty. Chan­ges can the­r­e­fo­re be expec­ted here in the fur­ther cour­se of the legis­la­ti­ve proposal.




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