HomeInsightsEuropean Parliament approves Directive on Open Data and Re-use of Public Sector Information


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The European Parliament has adopted a revised version of the Open Data and Re-use of Public Sector Information Directive, already agreed informally with EU member states in January, by 560 votes to 34, and 25 abstentions.

According to the European Parliament press release, public sector information such as legal, traffic, meteorological, economic and financial data, constitutes the largest information source in the EU. Allowing such data to be re-used for other purposes (i.e. GPS navigation and weather forecasting) has an enormous economic growth and innovation potential.

This is not least due to the increasing role of data and the developments in digital technologies and in the research sector, such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and advanced robotics.

The revised law will address barriers to more open data and the re-use of public information across the EU. Public data should be made available unless access is specifically restricted or excluded under national rules on access to documents.

The new rules underline that charges for re-use of public sector information should be avoided and when necessary limited to marginal costs, except in very restricted cases. The idea is to make it easier for SMEs to use public data to create new products and services for commercial purposes.

Member states will have to put in place national procedures for open access to research data that is retrieved with public funding, and if made accessible via repositories publicly funded research data will also be covered by the updated harmonised rules.

Data held by public undertakings in the utilities sector (e.g. energy and transport) and research data, not covered by current legislation, is now included, as this have reuse potential.

After a proposal of the European Parliament, a list of categories of high value datasets is included, and the Commission is empowered to identify specific high value datasets further based on an assessment of their potential to generate significant social, economic, or environmental benefits.

The agreement will now have to be officially approved by EU ministers in the Council. The Directive will then be published in the Official Journal of the EU and enter into force 20 days later. Member states will have two years to comply with the Directive. To read the European Parliament’s press release in full and for a link to the adopted text, click here.