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May third country nationals suffer from lower data protection?

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Published on Monday, 06 December 2021

Teresa Quintel receives an Excellent Thesis award in Law. Her thesis looks at situations in which the criminalisation of non-EU citizens – so called third country nationals – may lead to a lowering of data protection standards of these individuals.

Excellent Thesis Awards 2021

The University of Luxembourg will confer Excellent Thesis Awards to honour doctoral graduates who have demonstrated excellence, originality and depth of knowledge in their thesis.

This year, 17 graduates from the Doctoral School of Science and Engineering (DSSE), the Doctoral School in Economics, Finance and Management (DSEFM), the Doctoral School in Humanities and Social Sciences (DSHSS) and the Doctoral School of Law receive this award.

Ten of the 17 award winners are female candidates.

In the run-up to the Graduation Ceremony, we present three award winners in a sneak preview.


Where third country nationals are treated as if they were criminals, for instance, due to their irregular status, authorities such as border guards or police authorities could apply the EU Data Protection Directive applicable in the law enforcement context.

Because this Directive applies when the processing of personal data is carried out in the area of police and criminal justice, its rules are more lenient than the rules under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The assessment underlines how an increasing number of legislative acts inherently criminalise migrants, for example by streamlining law enforcement access to personal data of third country nationals stored in non-law enforcement AFSJ databases. The analysis identifies situations where data protection rules originally established for the law enforcement context may be applied in the area of migration both on national and on EU level.

In her concluding remarks, Teresa Quintel proposes several amendments to the existing data protection laws that could contribute to a clearer delineation between the general data protection rules and those that apply for law enforcement processing.


Teresa Quintel is a Lecturer at the Maastricht European Centre on Privacy and Cybersecurity, which she joined in July 2021. Prior to her appointment, Teresa worked at the University of Luxembourg and Uppsala University as PhD candidate, where she was also engaged in teaching and moot court activities.

Teresa Quintel holds an LLM in European Law and a MA in European Governance from the University of Luxembourg. Among her many activities as a PhD candidate at the University of Luxembourg, she was involved in the Luxembourg “Chercheurs à l’école” initiative, which brought her to interact with high school students about her research on data protection law.

Apart from her research and teaching activities, Teresa worked in different projects on EU and Council of Europe level. She has published on various topics in the context of data protection legislation and related matters. She spoke at numerous international conferences and participated in a series of workshops, stakeholder and taskforce meetings as well as summer schools (in the capacity of a lecturer) related to data protection. Prior to her time in academia, she worked in the private sector in Luxembourg and Sweden.

Teresa Quintel receives an Excellent Thesis Award from the University of Luxembourg’s Doctoral School of Law. Her doctorate was funded by the FNR and was conducted at the Université du Luxembourg and Uppsala University under the supervision of Prof. Mark D. Cole and Assistant Prof. Maria Bergström.