Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

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Unlocking the goldmine: new legal proposals to open up Europe's public sector

Imagine we had a resource available that could stimulate new innovations, a market worth tens of billions of euros, and increase the transparency and governance of public life. We do – it's the data held by Europe's public institutions. And today I announced legal proposals to unlock this treasure trove. Benefiting not just web entrepreneurs, but journalists, academics, anyone who has a smartphone or uses public services.

The test site for the Commission's own data portal - going live 2012

Already out there, many institutions have freed up their public data; and many people are making use of them. The UK, France and Denmark are leading the way in Europe; while all together, public sector information generates over 30 billion euros per year in economic activity, with services from geo-location services to weather forecasts. By opening up this resource fully, we could more than double the value of this activity – to around €70 billion. This opening up can generate tax revenues which far exceed revenue from any fees previously charged for the data. But the benefits aren't just economic. They improve the transparency of our democratic and public institutions. They can improve the quality of decision-making within public administrations themselves – through informed, evidence-based policymaking. And they can help those from all sectors of society – like apps that help people with disabilities find wheelchair-accessible buildings. Today's legal proposals are in two parts. First, the Commission itself will be practising what we preach, putting our own data on a single portal, free, open, easy to use. And we are pushing the EU's other institutions and agencies to join us too. Second, we are proposing changes to the Public Sector Information Directive. Changes which will make accessing public data from any level within the EU:
  • Cheaper (with fees, if anything, set at just marginal costs)
  • Easy to use, with an automatic right to re-use, no need for complicated authorisations
  • Wider in scope – as we include valuable cultural material, from libraries, archives and museums - although for these institutions, it will be under rules which respect their particular commercial vulnerability
All together, these measures can show the way to public authorities, and unlock a revolution in the use of Government data. My message to public authorities is clear: you don't have to wait for this package to become law.  You can give away your data now – and generate revenue and jobs, and even save money from the better information and decisions that will flow.
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  • cyberdoyle's picture

    Fantastic stuff. Now we just have to get a connection to all the rural people and they can be part of it too! Well done for bringing this into fruition, we have to make it easy for people to access stuff like this. Once broadband access is boring all the funky stuff can happen. At the moment its just too difficult to get online in many places so people remain analogue and data isn't seen or shared. Things are changing, bring IT on. The internet is free, data is free, but access is often impossible. This article sums up what is actually needed for change. Moral And Optic - Fibre.
  • David Schmidt's picture

    I agree with the  "Moral And Optic – Fibre" part, unfortunately Neelie Kroes undermines her integrity and "Moral compass" with taking Mr. Guttenberg as a counsel for her No Disconnect effort. He stands for internet censorship and data retention. He discredited several times over 135.000 German citizens who signed a petition against internet censorship. He lost his phD. because of plagiarism due to an effort of volunteers on the Internet (guttenplag). He is not the person to advice anybody on Internet freedom.
  • @toastontheside's picture

    At least you are honest about the yearn for adding more money to the treasury ... But the idea that the #EU is generating policy so that #tax revenues are increased really makes me sick to the bone.
  • Kees's picture

    As if that is the only reason that they have mentioned? Such a great initiative needs to be highlighted from all sides and if certain sides are less idealistic but still positive then I don't blame them for pointing them out. All together this is a great initiative! I look forward to start working with all the new data!
  • Alfred Biolek's picture

    OMG Neelie Kroes: Guttenberg, are you serious in giving this lier another political platform?
  • Richard's picture

    The sooner you start leading by example and improving the quality of the EU's own documents, the better. Take a look at the European Parliament's register of documents, for example. It is full of PDFs and MS Word documents which are impossible to reuse in any meaningful way. Even those documents which are published in HTML are virtually hopeless as they seem to be just resaved as HTML from within MS Word and contain tags which render them practically useless. When you start publishing all the working documents of the EU in nice, simple XML then we will know you are making progress... good luck!
  • Evan's picture

    Ireland is also making moves on open data.... https://data.fingal.ie & www.dublinked.ie
  • Enric's picture

    Absolutely - the Commission should be more balanced when mentioning progress in Member States, especially those which a more open policy than the Commission (whose Decision is rather timid)
  • Mehdi M:Z: Ghoochani's picture

    Sehr geehrte Frau Kroes, heute habe ich erfahren dass Sie Herr Gutenberg zu Ihrer Berater ernannt haben, ich frage mich ob Sie über die Dissertation des Herren Gutenberg nicht wussten? Ich sehe nicht dass Herr Gutenberg diesen Stelle verdient hat, seine einzige Talent besteht in Inszenierung falsche Tatsache zur Vorteil seine eigene Karriere. Ich bin Soziologe und seit mehr als 20 Jahren IT-Berater, ich bin mit Internet gewachsen und weiß genau welche Bedeutung Internet morgen für uns haben wird. Ich bitte Sie mich als Ihrer Berater einzustellen und Herren Gutenberg unverzüglich zu entlassen. Mit freundlichen Grüßen Mehdi M.Z.Ghoochani
  • Enric's picture

    Don't forget about Spain: all its many regions -like Euskadi and Catalonia- and cities leading well before other countries you mention and the Central Government with www.datos.gob.es and it's new legal framework which goes well beyond the proposed Decision and improved Directive.
  • Klaus's picture

    Why are the two blog posts on Mr. Guttenberg's new job locked? They are not even one day old yet! Older blog posts are still open to evaluate and comment upon. Are you a democrat, Ms. Kroes? Why do you lock out what European citizens have to say on these matters? How can you expect to be taken seriously?
  • Jack SCHICKLER's picture

    The two posts you mention are not locked, and are still open to comments.
  • Ron's picture

    The reform of EUR-Lex is ongoing and I wonder whether the new system will actually facilitate open access and open data. Will it be reformed in such a way that it can be linked in a useful way to the new open data portal? And a question following-up on Richard's comment: Is the draft decision that concerns open access to EU Commission documents (PDF) meant to be an example for other EU institutions too? Is it dependent on the reform of the PSI directive? Or, asked differently: If the PSI directive is reformed in the way you have asked for with your proposal(s), would similar decisions be quasi-mandatory for other Union institutions and bodies?
  • Jack SCHICKLER's picture

    Ron, The Commisison Decision (as distinct from the Directive) applies to the commission only; the Commission is proposing to other EU institutions, bodies and agencies that they also make their information accessible through the same portal. But in legal terms this cannot be enforced through a Commission Decision. There is some more information and Q&As here: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/11/891&form...
  • Nytcon's picture

    Ms. Kroes, it´s unbelievable making such a unworthy liar and representative of censorship a consultant for internet freedom. Listen to the people an think about your decision!
  • Central Harlemite (Richard Murray)'s picture

    Mr. Kroes, I think this is a good idea, and when I look at the interface it seems direct and focused which is good but I have some suggestions. For the ideas section, it might be good to have a developmental section, where developers can work in an environment with the data. I give an example here, http://developer.yahoo.com/yql/console . For the apps, try to make sure interapp communication is heightened, one of the biggest problem with apps is overloaded functionality, apps can be built on top of apps, try to make that possible. For the datasets, try to make sure that dataset searches or explicit datasets can be extracted by rss, atom and try to make sure you have a community for the portal on sites like Github.Can't wait to see the portal.
  • Rachel Kasumba's picture

    Neelie, about time! Despite all the challenges along the way to full implementation of open data, this is a step in the right direction. Even in the face of overwhelming complaints about information overload, more is better than none. My hope is that this open data can be provided free of charge to the people and that it is in format that is easy to access, understand, and use.
  • Richard Akerman's picture

    Is this the portal developed from the Call for tenders: implementation of European Commission Open Data portal - SMART 2011/0050 ?  It stated "The contractor will develop the portal infrastructure as an open source project whose source code will be published on OSOR (http://osor.eu) or another widely known open source repository."  When and where will the source code be published for the portal?  Will it be on github? Thank you. -- Richard Akerman
  • Pod's picture

    Wo ist die deutschsprachige Fassung des Textes?
  • Uli Siam's picture

    Vielen Dank Blog Admin. Gibt es sonst noch weitere Fassungen? Gruß Uli.
  • Justin's picture

    @Proweb365: Absolutely – the Commission should be more balanced when mentioning progress in Member States, especially those which a more open policy than the Commission (whose Decision is rather timid)
  • Alice's picture

    At least you are honest about the yearn for adding more money to the treasury … But the idea that the #EU is generating policy so that #tax revenues are increased really makes me sick to the bone.
  • Thomas's picture

    Is it dependent on the reform of the PSI directive? Or, asked differently: If the PSI directive is reformed in the way you have asked for with your proposal(s), would similar decisions be quasi-mandatory for other Union institutions and bodies?
  • KenValley's picture

    All together, these measures can show the way to public authorities, and unlock a revolution in the use of Government data.
  • Lookboard's picture

    @Lookboard: As if that is the only reason that they have mentioned? Such a great initiative needs to be highlighted from all sides and if certain sides are less idealistic but still positive then I don’t blame them for pointing them out. All together this is a great initiative! I look forward to start working with all the new data!
  • WP's picture

    Actually, they must have all related things like this public idea and how they can work on the government data.
  • Tanya Sithers's picture
    I am not happy with this possibilities this data would give in the wrong hands, we must be able to protect our privacy better.

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