General need for action
Digital data is an essential resource for economic growth, competitiveness, innovation, job creation and societal progress in general.
The value of the EU data economy was more than €285 billion in 2015, representing over 1.94% of the EU GDP. Due to a year-on-year growth rate of 5.03%, this value increased to €300 billion representing 1.99% of the GDP in 2016. If favourable policy and legislative conditions are put in place in time and investments in ICT are encouraged, the value of the European data economy may increase to €739 billion by 2020, representing 4% of the overall EU GDP.
As foreseen in the mid-term review of the Digital Single Market strategy, the Commission intends to support the creation of a common European data space — a seamless digital area with the scale to enable the development of new products and services based on data. Data should be available for re-use as much as possible, as a key source of innovation and growth. The measures announced in the Communication ‘Towards a common European data space’ cover different types of data and therefore have different levels of intensity:
- a proposal for a review of the Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI Directive);
- an update of the 2012 Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information; and
- guidance on sharing private sector data among companies and with public sector bodies for public interest purposes.
These initiatives are linked to the Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data in the EU (14 November 2018), that will ensure, once it enters into force in May 2019, that no barriers such as data localisation restrictions will impede the development of the European data economy.
Facing the challenge
Promoting the re-use of public and publicly funded data
In the EU, the public sector is one of the most data-intensive sectors. Thus it holds vast amounts of data, known as Public Sector Information (PSI) which, depending on national access regimes, may be open. The re-use of these data can contribute to the growth of the European economy, the development of artificial intelligence or the fight against societal challenges.
The re-use of these data is governed by the Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information. The European Commission aims to encourage access to and re-use of public and publicly funded data through the review of this Directive. To support this review, a public consultation was carried out in the second half of 2017.
On the basis of the conclusions of the consultation, the European Commission published a proposal for a revision of the PSI Directive to contribute with more public and publicly funded data to the creation of a common data space in the EU.
On 22 January 2019, negotiators from the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the Commission reached an agreement on the revised Directive. Once adopted, the newly named Open Data and Public Sector Information Directive will:
- Identify, by way of adoption of an implementing act, a list of high-value datasets such as geospatial or statistics data to be provided free of charge. These datasets have a high commercial potential, and can speed up the emergence of value-added EU-wide information products and services and the development of AI.
- Stimulate the publishing of dynamic data and the uptake of Application Programme Interfaces (APIs).
- Limit the exceptions which currently allow public bodies to charge more than the marginal costs of dissemination for the re-use of their data.
- Enlarge the scope of the Directive to:
- data held by public undertakings, under a specific set of rules. In principle, the Directive will only apply to data which the undertakings make available for re-use. Charges for the re-use of such data can be above marginal costs for dissemination;
- research data resulting from public funding – Member States will be asked to develop policies for open access to publicly funded research data. New rules will also facilitate the re-usability of research data that is already contained in open repositories.
- Strengthen the transparency requirements for public–private agreements involving public sector information, avoiding exclusive arrangements.
As regards scientific information, the Commission has further developed its Open Access policy by updating the 2012 Recommendation to Member States on access to and preservation of scientific information. It advises Member States on how to develop open access policies. This Recommendation was reviewed to better reflect developments in areas such as research data management, or incentive schemes and reward systems for researchers. It also reflects ongoing developments of the European Open Science Cloud, and takes into account the increased capacity of data analytics.
Assessing the need for further action on access to and re-use of private sector data
In the Communication ‘Towards a common European data space’, the Commission defines a series of key principles to be considered so as to make data sharing a success for all parties involved, in Business‑to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Government (B2G) situations.
The Commission aims to:
- to ensure fair and competitive markets for Internet of Things (IoT) objects and for products and services that rely on non-personal machine-generated data created by such objects. The Commission suggests a number of draft principles for companies to consider when drafting relevant contracts;
- to assist public bodies in accessing and re-using private sector data, to guide policy decisions or improve public services. It considers that the respect of the principles contained in the Communication would support the supply of private sector data under preferential conditions.
The Commission will continue to discuss with stakeholders and assess whether these principles and possible codes of conduct in B2B and B2G data-sharing arrangements are sufficient to achieve the goals intended and take appropriate action if needed.
More specifically in the field of B2G data sharing, the Commission set up a High-level Round-table in the form of an Expert Group on access to and reuse of private sector data by public bodies for public interest purposes. It has already appointed independent experts with experience in the public and private sector within the area of data sharing in B2G settings. The Expert Group assists the Commission in assessing issues related to B2G Data Sharing.
Removing data localisation restrictions: the free flow of data
Free flow of data means the freedom to process and store data in an electronic format anywhere within the EU. This is necessary for the development and use of innovative data technologies and services. Thus, the Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data lays the foundations of the common European data space. This Regulation introduces the principle of the free flow of non-personal data across borders into EU law, thereby establishing the free movement of non-personal data as the General Data Protection Regulation does for personal data.
In addition to the free flow of non-personal data in the EU, the measures announced in the Communication ‘Towards a common European data space’ will unleash the full power of the EU’s data economy, boost the competitiveness of European businesses and further modernise public services.
Proposal for a revision of the Directive on the re-use of public sector information
- Proposal for a revision of the Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information - Other language versions here.
- Impact assessment on the review of Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information
Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information
- Updated Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information - Other language versions here.
- News on the Recommendation
- Staff Working Document
Communication and Staff Working Document
- Communication ‘Towards a common European data space’ - Other language versions here.
- Staff Working Document – Guidelines on private sector data sharing in B2B and B2G contexts
- Call for applications for the selection of members (closed) of the expert group “business-to-government (B2G) data sharing”
- Meetings of the Expert Group on B2G Data Sharing for Public Interest Purposes
Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data
- Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data in the EU
- Proposed Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data in the EU
- Press release on the political agreement on the Prevision of the Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information
- Press release and MEMO (Q&A) on the 2018 Data Package ‘Towards a common European data space’
- Factsheet on the agreement on the revised PSI Directive
- Factsheet on the free flow of non-personal data
- Factsheet on building a European data economy
- Synopsis Report of the public consultation on the review of the PSI Directive
- Synopsis report of the public consultation on ‘Building the European data economy’
- Impact Assessment support study for the review of the PSI Directive
- Study on data sharing by companies in Europe
- Study on emerging issues of data ownership, interoperability, (re-)usability and access to data, and liability
- Study on the European data market, measuring the size and trends of the EU data economy