Free flow of non-personal data: MEPs to vote on EU’s fifth freedom  

Barriers to the free movement of non-personal data handled by firms and public authorities will be banned within the EU, under new rules to be voted on Thursday.

The new legislation, already provisionally agreed with the Council, will prohibit national rules requiring that data be stored or processed in a specific member state.

“Non-personal” data includes, for example, aggregate and anonymised datasets used for big data analytics, data on precision farming that can help to monitor and optimise the use of pesticides and water, or data on maintenance needs for industrial machines.

The new regulation aims to pave the way for artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data analysis.

The only grounds allowed for restricting where non-personal data may be located will be public security. Any remaining data localisation requirements will have to be published online, to ensure compliance and transparency.


The free flow of non-personal data regulation complements the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which provides for the free movement and portability of personal data within the EU. Together they will create a framework for a common European data space. Data is thus becoming the fifth freedom in the single market, after persons, goods, services and capital.

Procedure: Co-decision (ordinary legislative procedure), 1st reading agreement


Debate: Wednesday, 3 October

Vote: Thursday, 4 October