Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Action 3: Open up public data resources for re-use

The action aims at reviewing the Directive on re-Use of Public Sector Information, notably its scope and the principles regulating charging for access and use.

The Open Data Package including the amended version of Directive 2003/98/EC was adopted by EU legislators in December 2011.

What is the problem? Turning public data into business opportunities

Public authorities produce large amounts of data that could become the raw material for new, innovative cross-border applications and services. Examples of products and services based on the re-use of Public Sector Information (PSI) are GPS, weather forecasts, financial and insurance services.

Public Sector Information is one of the single largest sources of information in Europe. Its estimated market value is €32 billion. The re-use of public data could generate new business opportunities, jobs and open up choices for consumers.

Why is EU action needed? To unlock the public data potential across Europe

In general, the use of public sector information is restricted to governments or public bodies. Governments could stimulate the creation of content markets by making public information more easily available for re-use on transparent and effective terms.

What has the Commission done so far?

The original Public Sector Information Directive published in 2003 laid down basic principles of availability, transparency and cost limits to level the playing field for commercial re-users of public sector information.

A proposal for a revision of the Directive was included as a part of the Commission's Open Data Strategy on 12 December 2011 and the revised Directive was adopted by the EU Parliament on the 26th of June 2013.

When transposed into national legislation, the aim of the updated EU rules is to:

  • Create a genuine right to re-use public information, not present in the original Directive;
  • Make all public data not covered by one of the exceptions re-usable;
  • Expand the reach of the Directive to include libraries, museums and archives;
  • Provide that public sector bodies cannot charge a price that exceeds the marginal cost for reproduction, provision and dissemination of the information;
  • Oblige public sector bodies to be more transparent on the application of charging rules and conditions;
  • Encourage the availability of Governmental data in machine-readable and open formats;
  • Introduce new rules on digitisation agreements, which will support public private partnerships while protecting the cultural sector institutions and the interests of the general public.

Ongoing actions:

  • Awareness-raising and promotional activities through seminars and workshops organised by Member States and stakeholders.
  • Networking across Europe and in a wider international context (with Member States, PSI Alliance, national industrial associations, PSI platform, software developers and open data communities) to further stimulate action and monitor progress towards a stronger and more transparent environment.
  • Bilateral and multilateral discussions with the Member States, offering support in the transposition period.
  • Elaboration of a set of guidelines on recommended standard licences, datasets and charging for the re-use of public sector information. The guidelines will help public institutions across the EU in an efficient application of the revised rules on PSI re-use. The publication of the guidelines is expected in mid-2014.

What will the European Commission do next?

  • Run a data portal website as a single access point for the information that it holds, encouraging EU institutions, agencies and bodies to use this access portal for their documents.
  • Work with Member States on a pan-European umbrella portal for all information held by the EU, the Member States, regional and local governments.
  • Continue supporting open data initiatives, through funding provided by Horizon 2020 and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).