Blacklisting and early warning systems

What you should know about Blacklisting and Early Warning Systems

The Early Warning System (EWS) is an internal information tool that helps the European Commission and its executive agencies to identify third parties that pose financial and/or other risks. Part of this tool, a Central Exclusion Database is accessible by all public authorities that implement EU funds. The database includes all entities — companies, organisations or natural persons — which have been excluded from EU funding because they are insolvent, have been convicted of serious professional misconduct or criminal offence against the EU’s financial interests. Such a blacklist allows authorities to identify risky entities and take the appropriate precautionary measures, such as not entering into a contract with a particular service provider. This helps to ensure the sound financial management of European Union funds and to prevent fraud.

What are the main data protection issues?

Data quality - Being blacklisted has serious (economic) implications, so it is important that only the personal data (also referred to as personal information) of third parties that genuinely poses financial and/or other risks are blacklisted. How? By informing those on the blacklist and allowing them to rectify any information about them which is incorrect. This gives those incorrectly blacklisted an opportunity to defend themselves.

Right of information - Blacklisted individuals should, as a rule, receive information on how and why their personal information will be processed as soon as practically possible. It is not enough to provide a general privacy notice on the organisation's website.

Right of access - Those blacklisted should, as a rule, have a right to access the personal information being processed about them.

Right to rectify - Blacklisted individuals have the right to rectify inaccurate or incomplete information about them.

More information

The following non-exhaustive list is a selection of documents for further reading:

EDPS prior check Opinion on the European Commission's EWS (case 2009-0681)

EDPS prior check Opinion on the use of the Early Warning System by the European Research Council Executive Agency (case 2012-0823)

Recommendations of the European Ombudsman:

Recommendations of the European Ombudsman to the European Commission (Ombudsman case OI/3/2008/FOR)

Related topics:

Anti-fraud procedures