Businesses across the European Union (EU) will have to report ‘major' data breaches within 24 hours.
European Commission justice and rights vice-president, Viviane Reding, said a single set of data protection rules would apply to the EU's 27 member states.
It would be "one data protection authority for one company" and "one authorisation for the whole of the EU", Reding said at the launch of the Data Protection Directive for the EU.
Reding said the "scandal" of data breaches will be ameliorated, with victims "informed as soon as possible, within 24 hours on major breaches", although she failed to declare how a major breach would be determined.
She added that SMEs will be exempt from employing a data protection officer internally, the concept of which was revealed by SC Magazine UK last year.
There was also a focus on the need for personal data to be controlled by individuals.
Reding said the EU's 500 million citizens would have increased trust about how their data is handled.
She said "personal data belongs to the person" and that often, users were not aware of the privacy policies on social networking sites, or how their data was used when they visited a search engine.
“The right to be forgotten is the right of the person, you can give your data to a company and be able to take it back and give it to another company, or take it back and keep it."
"A company has to prove that they need it, so the burden of proof is on company and not on the individual."
Reding cited the case of an Austrian student who struggled to retrieve data from Facebook, which is based in Ireland.
“In the future the student would go to the Austrian regulator and ask them to solve the problem, so it is a one-stop shop for the citizen,” she said.
Reding called the rules were a "crucial piece of legislation".