EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova warned Wednesday that data protection scandals such as that currently engulfing Facebook would become "very expensive" for companies from May under new EU regulations.
"If some company tried this in Europe after May 2018, very likely this drastic sanction will be applied," said Jourova, who is in charge of consumer and personal data protection, at the end of a visit to Washington.
Facebook is under fire on both sides of the Atlantic following revelations that British data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica exploited the personal data of 50 million users of the social network.
On May 25, the General Data Protection Regulation will come into effect in the EU, strengthening the protection of EU citizens' personal details. It will apply to all companies, including those outside of the EU.
The regulation, which increases sanctions power, is not retroactive—but the commissioner promised that "GDPR makes European Union the space, the territory where cheating will be very, very expensive."
The commissioner did not meet with a Facebook representative specifically on the data breach matter, but she did participate in a roundtable on another subject with a representative of the company.
Jourova added she is waiting "impatiently" for answers.
"How is it possible that the people who didn't have the slightest clue became objects of such a harsh manipulation?" she said.
Explore further: EU lawmakers, UK regulator press Facebook on data breach