Data-driven innovation is a key enabler of growth and jobs in Europe. The importance of data collected online and generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) objects, and the availability of big data analytics tools and artificial intelligence applications are key technical drivers.

Data is a non-rivalrous resource: it is possible for the same data to support the creation of several new products, services or methods of production. This allows any company to engage with the same data in different data-sharing arrangements with other big companies, SMEs and startups, or even the public sector. This way, the value resulting from the data can be exploited to the maximum.

Private sector data sharing in business-to-government contexts

Data held by companies can be very relevant to guide policy decisions or improve public services. Its use can, for example, lead to a more targeted response to epidemics, better urban planning, like improved road safety and traffic management, as well as better environmental protection, market monitoring and consumer protection. When compiling official statistics, analysis of such data can be more cost-efficient and produce faster outcomes on aspects such as population movements, prices, inflation, the internet economy, energy or traffic. This can also lower the burden on companies and citizens by avoiding survey questionnaires.

Taking into account the experience gained in pilot studies and actions and the results of the stakeholder consultation, the Commission considers that the respect of the principles contained in the Communication ‘Towards a common European data space’ and Staff Working Document could support the supply of private sector data to public bodies under preferential conditions for re-use.

In order to discuss these principles further with the stakeholders, the Commission organised a high-level roundtable in the form of an Expert Group on access to and reuse of private sector data by public bodies for public interest purposes. The Expert Group assisted the Commission in assessing issues related to B2G Data Sharing. The Commission has appointed independent experts with experience in the public and private sector within the area of data sharing in B2G settings.The group’s conclusions and recommendations to the Commission were included in a report that will be used as input for possible future Commission initiatives on B2G data sharing. In this exercise, the experts advised to facilitate data sharing in the EU and take policy, legal and investment measures in three main areas:

  1. Governance of B2G data sharing across the EU
  2. Transparency, citizen engagement and ethics
  3. Operational models, structures and technical tools

These actions were announced on 19 february 2020 along with a communication of the European Commission on the new European data strategy.

Private sector data sharing in business-to-business contexts

As identified in the Communication ‘Building a European data economy’, manufacturers of IoT objects are usually in a privileged position to determine access to and re-use of the non-personal and automatically generated data from IoT objects. Depending on the market, these manufacturers may or may not grant access and usage rights to the user of the object, who may find him/herself prevented from using data, the generation of which he/she triggered.

With this issue in mind, and as a follow-up to the stakeholder dialogue on the Communication ‘Building a European data economy’, the Commission stipulates a set of principles in the Communication ‘Towards a common European data space’ and its Staff Working Document. These principles should be respected in contractual agreements to ensure fair and competitive markets for the IoT objects and for products and services that rely on non-personal machine-generated data created by such objects.

With the publication of these principles, the Commission launched a further consultation process with stakeholders. It conducted an SME panel consultation that yielded 979 replies Read the results.

The Commission will continue to assess whether amended principles and possible codes of conduct are sufficient to maintain fair and open markets and will address the situation. If necessary, the Commission will take appropriate actions.