25 Jul 2019

30% of European businesses are still not GDPR compliant

Almost a third (30%) of European businesses admit they are still not compliant with GDPR, according to a survey conducted by the European Business Awards on behalf of RSM.

Despite it being over a year since GDPR came into effect, and a raft of fines from regulators across Europe, only 57% of businesses are confident that their business follows the rules, with a further 13% unsure either way. Alarmingly these views come directly from the person in the company who had the responsibility for delivering GDPR. *

The impact of GDPR on Europe's businesses

Improved the management of customer data


Increased investment in cyber security


Encouraged new, innovative uses of data


Made businesses feel safer from cyber crime


The cost of compliance has slowed growth


Compliance has made our business more effective operationally


GDPR has made it difficult for us to work with non-European businesses


The compliance gap is not down to any single issue, with middle market businesses struggling to understand and implement a whole range of areas covered by the regulation. More than a third (38%) of non-compliant businesses do not understand when consent is required to hold and process data, 35% are unsure how they should monitor their employees’ use of personal data and 34% don’t understand what procedures are required to ensure third party supplier contracts are compliant.

Despite the lack of compliance, GDPR is starting to have a positive impact on cyber security within the EU. Almost three quarters (73%) of European businesses say GDPR has encouraged them to improve the way they manage customer data and 62% say it has seen them increase their investment in cyber security.

Richard Smith, Chair of the Global Risk Consulting Committee at RSM, one of the largest audit, tax and consulting organisations of advisers with a focus specifically on the middle market, commented: “With so much pressure on organisations to meet complex requirements, we saw GDPR fatigue setting in last year. Middle market businesses were overwhelmed by information from the press, industry bodies and stakeholders. Many organisations simply gave up and reverted back to the old way of doing things.

“But there are signs that this fatigue is about to fade. High-profile fines across Europe have demonstrated that regulators across the EU are serious about enforcement. Businesses are scrambling to catch up once again.”

“One important aspect to note is that GDPR compliance is far wider than just policies, procedures and training. Underlying technology controls need to be robust to safeguard the leakage and unauthorised access of personal data”

Jean Stephens, CEO of RSM International, commented:“GDPR is complex and challenging, but it is also an opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves with their ability to respond and demonstrate their organisational agility. By letting go of legacy systems and rethinking the way they interact with data, these more entrepreneurial businesses can become more appealing partners and more innovative competitors on the global stage.”


For further information, please contact:

Vanessa Wood at The European Business Awards on 0796 666 6657.

Notes to Editors

About the data

Research was undertaken among European businesses who have engaged with the European Business Awards. The majority of businesses surveyed were European middle market businesses with a turnover of less than €100m. The sample included businesses from 34 countries.

The data in this release was obtained from two separate surveys:

·         The majority of the data comes from 370 responses collected between 29.05.19 and 11.06.19.

·         The final data point comes from 597 responses collected between 16.04.19 and 03.06.19.

*The headline, and the first two paragraphs refer to data taken specifically from respondents who say they were involved in ensuring their company was GDPR compliant.

About RSM

RSM is a leading global network of audit, tax and consulting firms focused on the middle market, encompassing 116 countries, 750 offices across the Americas, Europe, MENA, Africa and Asia Pacific and more than 41,000 people internationally. The network’s total fee income is US$5.4 billion.

As a network, we share skills, insight and resources, as well as a client-centric approach that’s based on a deep understanding of our clients’ businesses. This is how we empower them to move forward with confidence and realise their full potential.

RSM is a member of the Forum of Firms, with the shared objective to promote consistent and high-quality standards of financial and auditing practices worldwide. RSM is the brand used by our network of independent accounting and advisory firms each of which practices in its own right. RSM International Limited does not itself provide any accounting and advisory services. Member firms are driven by a common vision of providing high quality professional services, both in their domestic markets and in serving the international professional service needs of their client base.

For more information, visit www.rsm.global, or search for RSM on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About the European Business Awards: 

The European Business Awards is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious cross border, cross sector business competitions. Its primary purpose is to support and develop a stronger, more successful, innovative and ethical business community in Europe, as it believes businesses play a key role in addressing major issues faced across the world.

It aims to do that in 3 ways:

ENDORSING AND PROMOTING EUROPE’S BEST BUSINESSES to help them attract new customers, partners, investors and talent

SHARING LEARNING AND SOLVING PROBLEMS to help businesses overcome the hurdles that stand between them and growth

STIMULATING DEBATES by asking the big questions about issues faced across Europe and how we can tackle them

The European Business Awards is now in its 12th year. Last year it considered over 111,000 businesses from 34 countries. Sponsors and partners include Inflexion, Germany Trade & Invest and PR Newswire.

Twitter: @The_EBAs

Facebook: www.facebook.com/businessawardseurope

LinkedIn: the company page “The European Business Awards”



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