Today, I am delighted to welcome you at this conference which is a milestone in the stakeholders' consultation process related to the initiative Building the European Data Economy. Let me recall where we come from.
The Communication on the Data-Driven Economy, adopted in 2014, paved the way for actions at EU level to foster the emergence of a functional data ecosystem. Our objective was to encourage new innovative data-driven products and services across Europe.
This Strategy was translated into several concrete actions, such as the establishment of the Big Data Value PPP, which seeks to mobilise the European Industry to invest in data analytics and the data economy in general.
On 6 May 2015, the Commission announced its Digital Single Market Strategy, striving in particular to maximise the growth potential of the Digital Economy as a whole.
The Digitising European Industry initiative will help companies, large and small, researchers and public authorities to make the most of new technologies. To this end, we have launched the coordination of national initiatives for digitising industry; we are co-investing in boosting Digital Innovation Hubs across Europe; finally, we are supporting the creation of partnerships for leadership in digital technologies value chains and platforms.
A prerequisite for all of this to happen is access to data. This remains a key issue for a data economy to thrive and for creating a win-win situation for both data holders and data users.
Data has become a good with major socio-economic value. But to reap the full benefits of new technologies and services, data should flow across borders and across sectors. This is not always the case today.
To this end, we are working on an initiative for boosting Europe's data economy, by addressing existing barriers to the free flow of data across border and sectors. We are aiming at early 2017.
- It will tackle restrictions on the free flow of data, including legal barriers on the location of data for storage and/or processing purposes. The initiative will also address legal uncertainties surrounding the emerging issues of data ownership and access, reuse, portability and liability. These emerging issues will be at the centre of the debate today.
With the Internet of Things and the growing number of smart, sensor-equipped machines, tools and devices, the number of data produced is expected to grow exponentially. Modern cars for instance produce constantly massive amounts of data on location, weather, temperature, technical features and so on. But the potential commercial use of these data is currently not fully exploited.
We have therefore to build an innovation friendly ecosystems in which private businesses will find the right incentives for investing in the data economy, both as producers of data or as data based services.
Access to data is critical for economic players and for the development of viable business models. The European Commission is already an important driver for Open Data and for Open Access to scientific information. The Public Sector Information Directive provides a framework enabling the re-use of data held by the public sector. This has led to the public sector making important investments for more data to become available.
The General Data Protection Regulation has harmonised throughout the EU the rules on the protection of personal data. The fact that from 2018 onwards the same level of data protection will apply in Europe is an important first step for a European data economy on which we will build on.
Based on these agreed standards of data protection more data need to be shared in order reap the full benefit of a data driven economy. We may therefore have to consider adjusting the legal framework.
We may need greater legal certainty when it comes to the question ''who has rights on data, in particular non-personal data generated by IoT machines and devices''. This could help companies to trade the data they hold more than today. This could take the form of what some academics start to call "a new data producer right", but there may be other forms.
Additionally we need to examine whether we may have to lay down some basic principles on contracts pertaining to the trading or use of data – similar to rules common in all our Civil Codes on sales contracts, lease contracts and similar. This could reduce costs of business when trading data.
But we are still at an early discussion on these topics so we are eager to learn from you what else should we do to foster sustainable business models around data?
Current liability law principles are being challenged by an ever-increasing interdependency between devices and software components in IoT and by more and more sophisticated autonomous systems. The application of the known principles of liability is confronted to key questions on whom to assign liability obligations should a fault happen.
We need to have a critical look whether our current rules on product liability are still up to date and we may have to analyse other liability schemes based on the generation of potential risks. In this context we may have as well to consider potential insurance schemes which could cover the new risks.
My over-arching objective for this initiative on "Building the European Data Economy" is to foster an efficient and competitive single market for data services, including cloud-based services. This will require as well a discussion on how to come to common standards which could help to ensure interoperability and portability of different data sets.
We are convinced that all these issues need to be decided on European level. Connected, autonomous cars will obviously only be a success if these cars can cross frontiers. The quick roll out of the internet of things will only happen if the same rights on data and the same rules on liability apply throughout the EU. The emerging issues which we are discussing here today are therefore truly European ones.
Today's debates will allow us to hear various stakeholder voices whether – and if yes, how – to adapt our regulatory framework to the realities of the data economy. To this end, I invite all of you, Member States, industry, academia to actively participate in this debate and I am very interested in your points of view and your argument
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