Public Sector Information: Four years after MEPSIR
It has been almost four years since the publication of the MEPSIR final report 1, which presented the then-current adoption of the PSI Directive 2. Published in June 2006, the MEPSIR final report mainly addressed the methodological approach towards the evaluation of the PSI Directive adoption by the Member States.
Since then, significant developments in the re-use of the PSI area have been recorded. In the positive side, all Member States have transposed the Directive even though this was not timely. A significant deadline on the elimination of exclusive agreements, yielding to reuse of public sector information has also passed.
In the following paragraphs, the major developments occurred since the MEPSIR final report have been grouped under the following categories:
- Transposition of the PSI Directive
- Implementation follow-up by the Commission
- Third party observations
The principal source for this information has been the ePSIplatform website (www.epsiplatform.eu), which is considered “Europe's One-Stop Shop on Public Sector Information (PSI) Re-use”. Additional sources, such as European Commission websites and the ePractice web portal have been used.
Transposition of the PSI Directive
Presently, all Member States have transposed the PSI Directive in their national legislation 3. In this period, the Commission had to reach the third step of the infringement procedure and bring in five Member States to the European Court of Justice for failure to implement the Directive on time. In other cases, the Commission performed the first and second steps for incorrect transposition of the PSI Directive. Currently, three Member States are facing infringement proceedings for failure to implement the Directive.
Detailed information about the current status of the transposition process in all member states is maintained by the European Commission:
Implementation follow-up by the Commission
The PSI Directive implementation has been monitored by the Commission in order to measure its effectiveness and implementation status. A process for online consultation was launched on 16 May 2008 for four months. On 7 May 2009, the Commission published a review of the application of the PSI Directive in the Member States and the Commission. According to the review 4, “although re-use of PSI is growing, much of its potential is still not being tapped because of the way public sector bodies handle their information resources. One of the reasons for this is the focus on short-term cost recovery, as opposed to benefits in the wider economy.” In contrast, “The Commission applies the principles of the PSI Directive also to its own documents through a Commission re-use policy. Commission Decision 2006/291/EC, Euratom 8 goes beyond the Directive by applying charges based on (at most) marginal costs and by making all documents re-usable.”
The review was accompanied by a Commission staff working document that presents in detail information about the implementation of the Directive by the Member States and the Commission.
The peculiarities of PSI owned by cultural institutions in relation to the PSI Directive requirements have been identified by the Commission. 5
In 2002, the Commission set up an expert group on PSI (PSI Group 6) to:
- Exchange good practices and initiatives supporting public sector information re-use.
- Discuss and recommend solutions to challenges such as charging, exclusive agreements, development indicators for measuring public sector information and technology.
The PSI Group consists of 27 Member State representatives, private sector organisations, and PSI experts who are regularly invited to the meeting on an ad-hoc basis.
On 12 June 2009, the group held its 12th meeting. Information about these meetings can be found at the group’s web page. The meeting on 12 November 2009 agreed to establish five working groups on PSI Economic Indicators and one working group on the economic case for marginal cost/cost recovery. The meeting concluded that: “PSI portals make re-use easier and more efficient. […] It appears from the outcome of the meeting that […] there is enough knowledge, technology, and good practice available on which to build PSI portals. Open-source tools enable setting up a PSI portal with relatively low costs. The major obstacle is the lack of the necessary political will and commitment from Member States for developing PSI portals.” 7
The e-Forum Newsletter of 7 May 2009 8 includes an article on the PSI reuse in Europe and states “EU authorities are not doing enough”.
The ePSIplatform, a thematic network funded by the CIP ICT-PSP eContentplus programme, presents significant resources on PSI and the Directive implementation in Europe. On the aforementioned review of May 2009, ePSIplatform presents in one place all relevant information including the background documents, the review itself, and reactions from public and private sector stakeholders. It also includes information on the EC PSI Group that includes a brief history, the list of its meetings, and a list of its working groups, i.e. the PSI Working Groups on:
For each of these working groups, the ePSIplatform website gathers in one place a short description, the working group “Terms of Reference”, reference papers, and related information. The ePSIplatform is working to stimulate PSI re-use, action, report developments and monitor progress towards a stronger and more transparent environment for the growth of national and European PSI re-use markets.
PSI related news
Since the MEPSIR study publication, the following events depict the developments in the area of PSI reuse. In this list, the news related to the member state transposition process has been omitted.
- 30-31 October 2006: The ePSIplus network held its kick-off meeting in Prague.
- 28 November 2006: The 9th meeting of the PSI Group was held in Luxembourg. The Commission presented its Decision on the reuse of Commission information.
- 27 December 2006: A set of country reports was published on the ePSIplatform website library. The list is maintained and regularly updated.
- 21 June 2007: The 10th meeting of the PSI Group was held in Luxembourg.
- 25 June 2007: The UK government responded to the OFT CUPI study (Office of Fair Trading, The Commercial Use of Public Information). The UK government response welcomes the study outcome and recommendations, but also identifies issues requiring additional work to be done.
- 27 June 2007: The Commission issued a call for tender on the “Assessment of the re-use of public sector information (PSI) in the geographical (cartographic-mapping and cadastral) information, meteorological information, and legal information sectors”. The tender was awarded on 10 January 2008 and the project’s final report was issued in December 2008.
- 31 July 2007: Two years after the UK implementation of the Directive, the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) published a report, on progress made in the field of PSI in the UK.
- 19 October 2007: A Meeting was held encouraging PSI re-use business: “Towards an Industry Action Group”. 9
- 18 January 2008: The Commission presents a press release with subject the effort to foster multilingualism as a part of the European unity in diversity.
- 4 March 2008: The ePSIplus Thematic Network has published the papers and presentations from the Austrian National PSI Meeting that was hosted in co-operation with the Austrian Ministry of Economy and Labour in Vienna. The meeting was attended by 49 people.
- 13 June 2008: An ePSIplus conference with title “PSI Re-use – Who Takes Action Next?” was held in Brussels.
- 30 June 2008: OECD releases a “Recommendation of the Council for Enhanced Access and More Effective Use of Public Sector Information”
- 7 October 2008: The report on the Estonian National PSI meeting has been published. The meeting was held in Tallinn on 23 May 2008. Further to the ePSIplus national meeting in Estonia, a set of recommendations was distributed within the Estonian public administration. The letter covers the most important issues raised during the meeting and focuses on the improvement of the PSI reuse.
- 7 November 2008: The recent action taken by BVG in Berlin regarding an iPhone application has sparked a debate as to whether BVG’s action over their copyright of the Berlin Metro map is a logical step and in the interest of the wider community.
- 9 October 2009: The Elinkeinoelämän Tutkimuslaitos (ETLA) has published a discussion paper on pricing principles and analysis when sharing geographic information.
- 24 October 2008: Conclusions of the Conference on the Reuse of Public Sector Information in Spain: state of play. (in Spanish)
- 23 December 2008: The UK government (OPSI) published a list of exclusive agreements – an example of good practice.
- 1 March 2009: The ePSIplatform website was launched.
- 1 March 2009: An article reporting on the findings of a research study about the PSI reuse in the Czech Republic undertaken by EPMA during the later half of 2008 has been published.
- 6 May 2009: A Task Force has been established to facilitate the access and re-use of PSI in Hungary. The inaugural meeting was hosted by the Department of Land Administration and Geoinformation in the South-wing of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Emphasis will be given to the spatial data provided by the Land Administration.
- 15 May 2009: The PSI Alliance responded to the Commission’s Communication on the review of the PSI Directive.
- 29 June 2009: Commission calls on Member States to implement new guidelines for improving the Single Market. 10
- September 2009: The Agence du patrimoine immatériel de l’État (APIE, Agency for Public Intangibles of France) has published a news release about their plans for a French PSI Portal.
- 2 September 2009: The Danish IT and Telecom Agency, Ministry of Science Technology, and Innovation have announced the launch of the Data Source Catalogue that provides a list of public sector information maintained by Danish public sector information holders.
- 25 September 2009: The Commission organised a meeting on the PSI portals 11. Presentations from the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Italy, PSI Alliance, ePSIplatform, and the European Commission focused on: existing portals and portals underway from some of the Member States; the “re-users' wish-list” as concerns the PSI portals; and technological, financial, and organisational challenges.
- On 10 November 2009, the Visby Declaration, and on 18 November 2009, the Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment, both organised by the Swedish Presidency, are considered important political declarations in support of the EU PSI policy agenda.
- 23 November 2009: The official journal of Belgium published an official notice that the Flemish Government has appointed members and alternate members to the professional body for public access and reuse of public sector information open government.
- 9 December 2009: The UK government published an action plan "Putting the Frontline First – Smarter Government", which contains an ambitious and proactive PSI reuse agenda.
- 18 December 2009: The Dutch newspaper Binnenlands Bestuurhas published a news article titled: Deur naar informatie overheid gaat wijder open (Door to government information will widen). The article considers the status of PSI reuse both within the Netherlands and across Europe. It calls the European Commissioner for the Information Society Neelie Kroes to take robust action to ensure the Netherlands and other European Member States implement the reuse of public sector information framework effectively.
- 28 December 2009: The decision of the Thessaloniki Urban Transport Organisation not to permit the re-use of the real time bus arrival information has forced the mobile information service www.staseis.gr to terminate the service. The decision of the transport operator has sparked debate within Greece as to whether the Thessaloniki Urban Transport Organisation and the Greek Government are complying with the PSI Directive and the national transposition in Greece (law 3448/2006).
According to the European Commission, Information Society and Media Directorate-General, The Commission's review confirmed the positive impact of the PSI Directive in different countries and sectors across the EU 12. In addition, if the EU and Member States intend to realise the full potential of public sector information for the EU economy, Member States must remove remaining barriers to reuse: the discrimination between potential users, high charges in certain cases for PSI, and complex licensing policies and promote proactive reuse policies.
- Public sector information is data produced and collected by public bodies (digital maps, meteorological, legal, traffic, financial, economic and other data). Re-use of information means that individuals or legal entities can copy, publish, and disseminate it for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Public sector information has great economic potential. According to a survey conducted by the European Commission in 2006 (MEPSIR study), the overall market size for PSI in the EU is estimated at EURO 27 billion which is four times the EU market for mobile roaming services. This shows the central role of public sector content in the digital age as a driver of economic activity. A further increase in the use of this resource will therefore directly contribute to the EU’s goals of increasing competitiveness and creating more jobs. In 2003, the EU adopted the Directive on the re-use of public sector information.
- “Implementation of the Public Sector Information Directive 2003/98/EC by the Member States”
- “Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Re-use of Public Sector Information : review of Directive 2003/98/EC” SEC(2009)597
- “Economic and Social Impact of the Public Domain: EU Cultural Institutions and the PSI Directive”
- Public Sector Information Group
- “Minutes Of The 1st Meeting On Public Sector Information Portals Luxembourg, 25 September 2009”
- e-Forum Newsletter, 7 May 2009M
- ePSIplatform news archive
- ePSIplatform news archive
- “Minutes of the 1st Meeting on Public Sector Information Portals Luxembourg, 25 September 2009”
- “Minutes Of The 12th Meeting Of The Public Sector Information Group”, 12 June 2009