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News :: Public Sector Information re-use

Commission calls for action to unlock public sector information re-use

(07/05/2009) European citizens use products and services based on the vast amounts of information produced, collected and shared by public sector bodies, such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts and financial and insurance services, on a daily basis. But despite its economic value, estimated at €27 billion, much of Europe's public sector information, from statistics to traffic information, is however still not re-used. EU rules making it easier to re-use public sector information have had a positive impact on the public sector information market, the Commission said today. However, it also noted that the sector has not yet generated its full potential for the European economy. It called on EU Member States to implement practical measures such as making it easier to get a license to re-use public sector information, to put an end to exclusive agreements, to identify information that could be reused and make it easily available, to ensure that EU rules have a positive impact on the economy.

The Commission today reported on the impact of common EU rules on the re-use of public sector information (the PSI Directive) put in place in 2003 (IP/02/814). The Directive sets out how public sector bodies should make their information available for re-use in order to remove barriers such as discriminatory practices, monopoly markets and a lack of transparency. It says that commercial re-use of public sector information is now being encouraged by Member States, exclusive agreements in some Member States have been ended and charges for re-use have been lowered.

The Commission's review confirmed the positive impact of the PSI Directive in different sectors across the EU: in the geographical sector, the volume of information, such as cadastral or environmental information or maps, downloaded from public sector bodies has grown by about 350% since 2002. For example, the popular personal navigation systems are based on maps produced by the public sector, and their sale worldwide is expected to grow from 30.7 million units in 2007 to 68 million units in 2012. National meteorological offices have reported a 70% increase in data downloads from 2002 to 2007, and the EU meteorological market was estimated in 2006 at €530 million, a 60% increase since 1998. This type of public sector information is used by broadcasting companies, the tourist industry, agriculture and insurance companies.

However, the Commission warned that to realise the full potential of public sector information for the EU economy Member States must remove remaining barriers to re-use: discrimination between potential users, high charges for public sector information and complex licensing policies. It also highlighted practical problems such as lack of awareness on what public sector information is available, and public sector bodies failing to realise the economic potential of their data.

This can be done by ending exclusive agreements, avoiding unfair competition and making public sector information resources easily identifiable and available to businesses and the public, lowering costs for disseminating information and setting up quick and inexpensive conflict resolution mechanisms.

The Commission will review whether this has been done by 2012, when more evidence on the impact, effects and application of EU rules on public sector information will be available. Until then, the Commission will closely monitor implementation and application of the PSI Directive in the Member States, particularly exclusive agreements, and encourage authorities to take measures that facilitate the re-use of public sector information.


The EU adopted the PSI Directive in 2003 to overcome the barriers that limit cross-border re-use of public sector information following a Commission proposal (IP/02/814).

The Commission's review

Examples of commercial products and services that use public sector information