A European Strategy for Data

In “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age”

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Faced with the rapid economic and social changes brought by digital technologies, the Commission presented its vision on shaping Europe's digital future on 19 February 2020, stressing in particular that data is at the core of the digital transformation. On the same day, the Commission adopted a European Strategy for Data. It aims at setting up a single market for data, so that Europe can reap the benefits of the data revolution and that by 2030 the EU’s share of the data economy at least amounts to its economic weight.

The strategy presents a range of policy measures and investments to enable the data economy, stressing that a number of issues will need to be addressed: data availability (in particular in the context of government-to-business, business-to-business, business-to-government and government-to-government data sharing); imbalances in market power (regarding cloud services or data infrastructures providers, or large online platforms); data interoperability and quality; data governance; dependencies in data infrastructures and technologies; the empowerment of individuals to exercise their rights on their data; digital skills and data literacy, and cybersecurity.

The strategy builds on four pillars:

  1. Setting up a cross-sectoral governance framework for data access and use.
  2. Investing in data and strengthening Europe’s capabilities and infrastructures for hosting, processing and using data, interoperability. It includes a €4 to 6 billion High Impact project on European data spaces (the Commission contribution will amount to €2 billion).
  3. Empowering individuals, investing in skills and in small and medium-sized enterprises.
  4. Developing common European data spaces in strategic sectors and domains of public interest: at least nine common European data spaces will be set up, concerning: industry (manufacturing), the Green Deal, mobility, health, finance, energy, agriculture, public administration and skills. Furthermore, the Commission will continue developing a European Open Science Cloud for a science, research and innovation data space.

The European Commission ran a public consultation to gather the stakeholders’ views between 19 February and 31 May 2020. Almost all respondents agreed on the need for a data strategy to enable the digital transformation of society.

On 25 November 2020, the Commission adopted a first legislative initiative under the Strategy, a proposal for a Regulation on European data governance ('Data Governance Act'). It aims to increase the availability of data for use by enhancing trust in data intermediaries, and by reinforcing data-sharing mechanisms across the EU. Political agreement was reached on this file between Parliament and Council on 30 November 2021 (see dedicated fiche). 

In the European Parliament, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy adopted a report on a European strategy for data on 24 February 2021 (rapporteur Miapetra KUMPULA-NATRI, S&D). The report welcomes the Commission’s data strategy and discusses the conditions for ensuring the EU’s leading role in the data economy. It supports the view that the EU must put in place EU-wide data governance and a human-centric, data society and economy based on the values of privacy, transparency and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, and that citizens should be able to take decisions over the data they produce. On 25 March 2021, the report was adopted unamended in Plenary by 602 votes in favour and 8 against.

The work programme of the European Commission for 2022 includes the "GreenData4All" REFIT initiative (i.e. the revision of the infrastructure for spatial information in the European Community (INSPIRE) Directive and the public access to environmental information Directive) (see dedicated carriage).

The Data Governance Act was adopted on 16 May 2022. It was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 3rd June 2022.

As a complement to the Data Governance Act, the Commission published on 23 February 2022 a proposal for a Regulation on harmonised rules on fair access to and use of data ('Data Act', see dedicated carriage). It also published on the same day an overview of the state of play of the common European data spaces that are being developed in various fields.



Author: Guillaume Ragonnaud, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/01/2024.