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Elements of the European data economy strategy 2018

The European Commission proposed a number of policy and legislative initiatives to unlock the re-use potential of different types of data and create a common European data space...

The data-driven economy stimulates research and innovation on data, and increases business opportunities and availability of knowledge and capital across Europe. The value of the EU data economy was more than €285 billion in 2015, representing over 1.94 % of the EU GDP. If favourable policy and legislative conditions are put in place in time and investments in ICT are encouraged, the value of the European data economy may increase to €739 billion by 2020, representing 4 % of the overall EU GDP.

A data economy holds enormous potential and opportunities in various fields which the EU cannot afford to miss, ranging from health, food security, climate and resource efficiency to energy, intelligent transport systems and smart cities.

Communication ‘Towards a common European data space’

The European Commission adopted the Communication ‘Towards a common European data space’ on 25 April 2018. This Communication and its Staff Working Document propose a package of measures as a key step towards the creation of a common data space in the EU — a seamless digital area with the scale that will enable the development of new products and services based on data.

The measures proposed bring together data, as a key source of innovation and growth, from different sectors, countries and disciplines. They cover different types of data and therefore have different levels of intensity. The Commission has published:

Other measures that are also announced in this package are: the publication of the results of the evaluation of the Database Directive, and the intention to set up a Support Centre for data sharing in the EU and to organise a high-level roundtable to discuss private sector data sharing in B2G contexts.

All processing of data has to be done in full respect of the data protection rules (GDPR and ePrivacy legislation), which provide a solid framework for digital trust — a precondition for the sustainable development of the data economy.

Communication on "Building a European data economy"

The European Commission adopted a Communication on building a European data economy on 10 January 2017, based on the conclusions of the Communication on the data-driven economy (2014).

The Communication and the accompanying Staff Working Document addressed issues such as the free flow of data across borders and data localisation restrictions, as well as emerging legal issues in the context of new data technologies (e.g. access, liability, portability), including:

  • access to and transfer of non-personal machine-generated data,
  • data liability, and
  • portability of non-personal data, interoperability and standards.

On the basis of these documents, the Commission organised a dialogue with stakeholders, including a public consultation and a number of sectorial and horizontal workshops. These helped identify policy measures that can unleash Europe’s data economy in a digital single market. The conclusions from this process can be found in the synopsis report of the consultation.

Follow-up actions include the Commission legislative proposal on the free flow of non-personal data and the 2018 Data Package.

Communication on "Towards a thriving data-driven economy"

The Communication ‘Towards a thriving data-driven economy’ was adopted in July 2014 and relied on a coordinated action plan involving Member States and the EU so as to guarantee the necessary scope and scale of the activities. The envisaged actions aimed at accelerating innovation and productivity growth, and increasing competitiveness in data across the whole economy, as well as on the global market with Europe as a key player.

To be able to seize these opportunities and compete globally in the data economy, the EU:

  • supported ‘lighthouse’ data initiatives capable of improving competitiveness, quality of public services and citizens’ lives;
  • developed enabling technologies, underlying infrastructures and skills, particularly to the benefit of SMEs;
  • extensively shared, used and developed its public data resources and research data infrastructures;
  • focused public R&I on technological, legal and other bottlenecks;
  • ensured that the relevant legal framework and the policies are data-friendly;
  • accelerated the digitisation of public administration and services to increase their efficiency;
  • used public procurement to bring the results of data technologies to the market.

This Communication builts on the ideas of a strategic initiative on the data value chain, which was launched in November 2013 and which has as one of its key features the creation of a public–private partnership (PPP) on data.