Council of the European Union formally adopts Open Data and Re-use of Public Sector Information Directive

Following adoption of a revised text of the Directive by the European Parliament in April 2019, the Council has now formally approved it. The Council says that the new Directive will “boost the EU data economy, contribute to the development of a data-based society and stimulate growth and the creation of jobs in all sectors of the economy”. The new rules will also help Europe to become a world leader in artificial intelligence. According to the Council, they will “bolster the EU digital industry, especially smaller companies and start-ups, which would not otherwise have access to all the data they need to innovate and expand”.

The new Directive extends the scope of the rules on the reuse of public sector information beyond public sector bodies so as to include public undertakings in the transport and utilities sectors. It also introduces the concept of high-value datasets, which are to be made available free of charge through an application programming interface (API). The text defines six broad categories of high-value datasets: geospatial, earth observation and environment, meteorological, statistics, companies and company ownership, and mobility. The list will be updated by way of secondary legislation.

The rules will cover publicly funded research data that is already available in public repositories. It will also encourage the dissemination of dynamic data, such as real-time weather or transport data.

Overall, public sector data will be available either free of charge or at very low cost.

In addition, the reforms promote the use of open data, meaning data in open formats that can be freely used and shared for any purpose.

The text will now be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force 20 days after publication. Member states will then have two years in which to incorporate its provisions into national law. To read the Council’s press release in full, click here.