In October 1995 the European Union (E.U.) adopted a "Directive on the Protection of Individuals with regard to the Processing of Personal Data and on the Free Movement of Such Data." By October 1998 all fifteen E.U. Member States must bring their national laws into congruence with the Directive.
In February 1997 the Council of Europe adopted a "Recommendation on the Protection of Medical Data," the principles of which the 39 Members (which includes all the E.U. countries) are urged to transpose into their national laws.
Thus the European countries are revising both their general privacy laws and their laws covering health data. The resulting changes in European laws, regulations, codes, guidelines, and practices will have important implications for international health research, and for movement of data from Europe to the U.S. and other non-European countries.