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

What is the problem? Turning public data to business opportunities

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

PSI is the single largest source of information in Europe. Its estimated market value is €32 billion. Re-used, this public data could generate new businesses and jobs and give consumers more choice and more value for money.

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

Often the use of this information is restricted to governments or public bodies. Governments could stimulate content markets by making public sector information more widely available for re-use on transparent and effective terms.

What has the Commission done so far?

A Directive was adopted in 2003 which lays down basic principles of availability, transparency and cost limits to ensure a level playing field for commercial re-users of public sector information.

A proposal for a revision of the Directive was adopted on 12 December 2011. The main changes that the Commission is proposing are:

Introducing the general rule that all documents held by public sector bodies will be re-usable for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, unless covered by the exceptions provided for in the Directive

Including libraries, museums and archives under the Directive for the first time

Establishing that public bodies shall in principle not be allowed to charge more than costs triggered by the individual request for data (marginal costs);

Introducing regulatory oversight over how public authorities handle requests for re-use and in particular the fees they charge;

Calling on Member States to use commonly-used machine-readable formats so as not to create technical barriers for re-use.

The proposal is now being examined  by the legislator, i.e. by the Council and by the European Parliament. The date of adoption of the revised Directive is expected at the earliest in the spring of 2013.

What will the European Commission do?

Set up a data portal website as a single access point for the information that it holds, encouraging other 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, notably through funding provided by the CIP ICT Policy Support Programme and the future Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

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.