Data protection and trade – the moral dimension

Governing Cross-Border Data Flows: Reconciling EU Data Protection and International Trade Law


Svetlana Yakovleva


£110, Oxford University Press



What is more important – human rights or economic gain? And is there a field of global regulation in which these two concepts clash, especially since the EU enhanced its personal data protection efforts? Last year’s record fine issued to Meta by the European Data Protection Board – for ‘systematic, repetitive and continuous’ transfers of personal data – was an excellent example of this dichotomy. In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital globalisation, where the free flow of data is integral to economic prosperity and innovation, Svetlana Yakovleva offers an insightful analysis of the challenges posed by the intersection of EU data protection laws and international trade agreements.

The author interrogates inherent tensions existing between the EU’s stringent data protection framework – enshrined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – and its commitments under international trade agreements. The book examines how interpretations of GDPR provisions, notably Chapter V, intersect with broader EU Charter obligations. The implications of recent jurisprudence are covered, including the landmark Schrems II judgment, pointing to the challenges posed by the GDPR’s extraterritorial reach and its potential conflict with international trade norms.

Governing Cross-Border Data Flows

Taking a step back, Yakovleva deftly unpacks the divergent value systems that underpin different policy deliberations. By examining the moral dimensions of policy choices, the book argues against reducing complex regulatory issues to mere economic calculus, calling  for a more nuanced approach that prioritises individual rights alongside economic efficiency.

The author goes beyond mere critique, and instead offers pragmatic solutions to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable. She advocates for a recalibration of international trade agreements to accommodate the imperatives of data privacy, suggesting nuanced thresholds that balance trade liberalisation with fundamental rights protection.

This book’s insights hold significant value for professionals engaged in the fields of personal data protection and international trade.


Sanja Došen Krunić, an international technology lawyer, is senior legal counsel at, Belgrade, Serbia