EU Parliament passes trade secrets directive

Samira Assma's picture

The European Parliament has voted in favour of the trade secrets directive, which increases harmonisation of trade secrets laws. 

The directive was passed by 503 to 131 votes yesterday, April 14, with 18 abstentions. Under the directive, a trade secret is defined as providing commercial value to a company because it is secret.

The legislation outlines an EU-wide definition. Provisions on ensuring trade secrets are kept confidential during legal proceedings are also covered. 

Constance Le Grip, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the European People’s Party and tasked with pushing through the reforms, said: “With one company out of every five a victim of theft of trade secrets every year, harmonisation should allow the creation of a safe and trustworthy environment for European companies.” 

The directive also obliges EU member states to ensure that victims of trade secret misuse are able to defend their rights in court and seek compensation. 

Throughout the negotiations MEPs stressed the need to ensure that the legislation does not curb media freedom or restrict the work of journalists regarding  their investigations and protection of sources. 

The directive was approved by the parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee in January this year. The European Commission will now have to vote on the directive before it becomes law.