Free flow of data: enabling the digital single market 

The free flow of data could help to create opportunities for European companies ©AP Images/European Union - EP 

New EU rules facilitating the free flow of non-personal data could help save EU businesses billions of euros every year.

Benefits of new legislation


The draft proposal aims to remove geographical restrictions on the storage and processing of non-personal data. It would allow businesses and public administrations to store and process non-personal data anywhere in the EU.


Currently EU countries can oblige public and private public organisations to locate the storage or processing of data within national borders and in many cases do so. The current restrictions and legal uncertainty on moving data (for example by switching providers) cost EU businesses billions of euros every year. In the future restrictions would only be justified on the basis of public security. Data portability between cloud service providers should ensure real competition across borders with benefits for businesses.


Parliament's role


The MEP in charge of steering the new legislation through Parliament is Anna Maria Corazza Bildt. “This regulation is truly a game changer for the digital economy in Europe, potentially providing enormous efficiency gains for both companies and public authorities," said the Swedish EPP member. "It will pave the way for artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data analysis."


Corazza Bildt was clear about her aims: "It is a major step towards reducing data protectionism which is threatening the digital economy. My goal is to have rules that are clear, net neutral and future-proof."


Parliament's internal market committee approved the draft rules on 4 June. Negotiations have  now started with the Council and the European Commission on the final text of the regulation. 


No risks for online privacy


These rules would only apply to non-personal data, so would not contain any information that could lead to a person being identified. The regulation is therefore complementary to the General Data Protection Regulation, applicable since 25 May 2018.