The Evolution of European Data Law

Paul Craig and Gráinne de Búrca (eds), The Evolution of EU Law (OUP, 3rd edn 2021), 902-936

50 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2021 Last revised: 5 Jan 2022

See all articles by Thomas Streinz

Thomas Streinz

NYU School of Law - Guarini Global Law & Tech

Date Written: January 18, 2021


This new chapter for the 3rd edition of Paul Craig and Gráinne de Búrca’s "Evolution of EU Law" conceptualizes European data law as an area of EU law that gravitates around but transcends data protection law. It traces the origins of the EU’s data protection law to national and international antecedents, stresses the significance of recognizing data protection and privacy in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, and explores the gradual institutionalization of data protection law through exceptionally independent data protection authorities, firmly embedded data protection officers, and emergent structures for supranational coordination. It then contrasts the EU law on personal data with the EU law on non-personal data and scrutinizes two other domains of European data law that intersect in complicated ways with data protection law: data ownership laws and access to data laws. European data protection law has been globally diffused through extraterritorial application, conditionalities for transfers of personal data, international agreements, and the “Brussels Effect” but whether the EU will retain its role as global data regulator is far from certain. As the European Commission is executing its data strategy, it needs to move beyond simplistic understandings of data as a resource, recognize the salience of data infrastructures, and confront the reality that data is more than a regulatory object.

Keywords: data law, data protection law, data governance, data ownership, access to data, non-personal data, data infrastructures, GDPR, Brussels Effect

Suggested Citation

Streinz, Thomas, The Evolution of European Data Law (January 18, 2021). Paul Craig and Gráinne de Búrca (eds), The Evolution of EU Law (OUP, 3rd edn 2021), 902-936, Available at SSRN: or

Thomas Streinz (Contact Author)

NYU School of Law - Guarini Global Law & Tech ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States


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