Data Governance Act

Briefing 17-06-2021

Data is a key pillar of the European digital economy. To unlock its potential, the European Commission aims to build a market for personal and non-personal data that fully respects European rules and values. While the volume of data is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years, data re-use is hampered by low trust in data-sharing, conflicting economic incentives and technological obstacles. As the first of a set of measures announced in the European strategy for data, the Commission put forward its proposed data governance act on 25 November 2020. It aims at facilitating (largely) voluntary data sharing across the EU and between sectors by strengthening mechanisms that increase data availability and foster trust in intermediaries. It establishes three principle re-use mechanisms and a horizontal coordination and steering board. While there seems to be considerable support for data governance rules, the appropriate approach remains fundamentally disputed. Issues have been raised concerning, for instance, the ineffectiveness of labelling and registration regimes to foster trust and data re-use, the uncertain interplay with other legislative acts, the onerous rules on international data transfers and the vulnerability of certain mechanisms to commercial exploitation. The co-legislators, the European Parliament and Council, are in the process of assessing whether the Commission's proposal presents an adequate response to the challenges identified and are working towards defining their respective positions.