Tomorrow is a big day for the data economy. Data’s very concept is changing. It has become a commodity: its ownership can be transferred, it can be marketed, reused, aggregated, transformed, bought and sold.

The real potential comes from public sector information (PSI) or Open Public Data.

Public sector bodies produce and possess huge quantities of data with huge value for individuals, businesses and society as a whole, by adding innovation value to the original data that was gathered.

Tomorrow is about our Open Data (PSI) proposal and updating this Directive is one of the last - and most impactful - building blocks of the Digital Single Market.

This law was last updated in 2013 and a lot has changed since then.

Representatives of the EU’s three main institutions meet again tomorrow to hammer out what I very much hope will be the final details of this legal update.

There is no good reason to block or delay the conclusion of this file.

There is huge potential here, social as well as economic. To get the most out of data, it should be open and available - as far as possible - in more than one way. Reused, repurposed.

From the economic perspective, the European Data Portal estimates that the open data market will grow by 36.9% in the EU between 2016 and 2020 to reach an annual €75.7 billion. Over this period, it should stand at a cumulative €325 billion, during which almost 25,000 new direct open data jobs will be created: a 32% growth over five years.

This includes traffic data, geographical and weather information, general statistics – education and social data, for example - data from publicly funded research projects, certain books from libraries. The list goes on.

But there are several barriers that make it hard to reuse public sector data for commercial purposes.

For a start, real-time access to public sector data is relatively rare, and can cost a lot for re-users, too much to make it useful for startups and other smaller users.

Today’s rules do not cover data generated by energy and transport utilities, or publicly funded research - even though much of it is fully or partly funded by public money.

Let me give a couple of examples. In Sweden, Seapilot produces navigation apps based on marine chart data. This publicly funded data is freely available for reuse in the United States. But in the EU, costs for the same datasets vary from €2,745 to as much as €18,000 per country. Then, of course, you need to multiply these costs by 28.

In one EU country, business registers available for re-use cost €75,000 a year. But since there are only two clients for this, the economic value coming from the data gathered by public authorities is not optimal.

Think what it could be if these datasets were freely available to developers and app creators.

These are all reasons for updating the EU’s rules in this area: the Open Data (PSI) Directive.

Our aim is to make more public data and publicly funded data available, reduce charges for PSI reuse, boost access to real-time data and encourage the use of user-friendly interfaces.

Sometimes I hear some concerns about the role of the utilities I mentioned earlier, known as public undertakings.

Maybe there is a need to clarify some things about the content and objectives of the PSI: we are not proposing any obligation on them to release anything, they can choose whether or not to make data publicly available. However, when they choose to do so, there are certain obligations like transparency, non-discrimination and not overcharging for the data.

We are almost there in terms of concluding the political and technical negotiations. I sincerely hope the meeting will be successful so that Europe’s path to its own bright digital future is assured.

You can find more information here.

Another blog soon.

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