• Parliament and Council have agreed on a Data Governance Act
• Scheme aims to boost data sharing through trust, giving more control to citizens and companies
• MEPs secured tight provisions to ensure fair access and stimulate voluntary data sharing
Rules to make more data available to start-ups and businesses to stimulate innovation were informally agreed by MEPs and the Council Presidency on Tuesday.
The Data Governance Act (DGA) aims to increase trust in data sharing, creates new EU rules on the neutrality of data marketplaces and facilitates the reuse of certain data held by the public sector, e.g. certain health, agricultural or environmental data. It sets up common European data spaces in strategic domains, such as health, environment, energy, agriculture, mobility, finance, manufacturing, public administration and skills.
The potential of artificial intelligence cannot be unlocked without data sharing, which helps start-ups and businesses develop an ecosystem based on EU standards.
During negotiations, MEPs ensured there were no loopholes that would allow operators from non-EU countries to abuse the scheme, by strengthening provisions on trust and fair access. MEPs also secured precise requirements on which services will fall under the new DGA.
Data altruism to support research, healthcare, combating climate change
MEPs pushed to make the most of data made available voluntarily for objectives of general interest, such as scientific research, healthcare, combating climate change or improving mobility. Trusted data-sharing services will be more visible and use a common European logo certifying their compliance with the DGA.
Parliament also beefed up the Data Innovation Board, which will provide expertise when decisions on data governance need to be made. The Board will advise the Commission on cybersecurity for data exchanges and storage, and push for international standardisation and portability of data.
Public sector bodies will have to avoid creating exclusive rights for the re-use of certain data, and exclusive agreements should be limited to a period of 12 months for new contracts, and 2,5 years for existing ones, to make more data available to SMEs and start-ups.
“Our goal with the DGA was to set the foundation for a data economy in which people and businesses can trust. Data sharing can only flourish if trust and fairness are guaranteed, stimulating new business models and social innovation. Experience has shown that trust – be it trust in privacy or in the confidentiality of valuable business data – is a paramount issue. The Parliament insisted on a clear scope, making sure that the credo of trust is inscribed in the future of Europe's data economy”, said lead MEP Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE).
“We are at the beginning of the age of AI and Europe will require more and more data. This agreement should make it easy and safe to tap into the rich data silos spread all over the EU. The data revolution will not wait for Europe. We need to act now if European digital companies want to have a place among the world’s top digital innovators”, she said.
The informal agreement will now have to be formally endorsed by Parliament and Council to come into force. The Industry, Research and Energy Committee will vote on the text in a forthcoming meeting.
According to the European Commission, the amount of data generated by public bodies, businesses and citizens is expected to multiply by five between 2018 and 2025. The new rules would allow these data to be harnessed and pave the way for sectoral European data spaces to benefit society, citizens and companies.