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Summary report of the consultation on the review of the directive on the re-use of public sector information

The public consultation on the review of the Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information (PSI Directive) ran from 19 September to 16 December 2017. This summary report takes stock of the contributions and presents preliminary trends that emerge from them, focusing on quantitative aspects.

Objective of the online consultation

The objective of the consultation was to collect input in view of reviewing the Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI Directive).

As foreseen in the May 2017 mid-term Review of the Digital Single Market strategy (COM(2017) 228), and in order to fulfil the periodic review obligation contained in article 13 of the PSI Directive, the Commission is preparing an initiative on accessibility and re-use of public and publicly funded data, and at the same time exploring the issue of privately held data which are of public interest.

The Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information, revised by Directive 2013/37/EU in July 2013, is a core element of the European strategy to open up government data for use in the economy and for reaching societal goals. It encourages Member States to make as much material held by public sector bodies available for re-use as possible, to foster transparency, data-based innovation and fair competition.

The questions of this online consultation covered:

  1. the evaluation of the current Directive implementation;
  2. the problem, objectives and possible options for the future of the Directive;
  3. the question of access by public sector bodies to data of public interest coming from private sector entities.

Respondents could contribute to any of the sections or questions, and also submit position papers. Respondents rarely replied to all questions, hence the sample varies across questions, and even within each section. For this reason, for each topic, both the share and the actual number of respondents expressing their views were indicated.

Who replied to the consultation?

The consultation targeted all interested parties from the public and private sectors, including governments, public sector content holders and users, commercial and non-commercial re-users, experts and academics, as well as citizens.

The online survey received a total of 273 responses, including 79 on behalf of a public organisation, 69 by citizens, 68 on behalf of an association representing the interests of its members, 37 on behalf of a business, and 20 as "other" stakeholders.

Almost half of respondents defining themselves as public organisations have a function of general public services, followed by more than a third defining themselves as statistical services and more than a quarter as public research organisations (several answers were possible). More than half of respondents that define themselves as an association representing its members belong to the category of trade, business or other professional association, while a third are NGOs, and 16% are research and academic institutions. Half of the businesses that replied to the consultation are very large organisations (5000 or more employees) and 40% are SMEs.

Respondents generally came from all Member States of the EU. 11% of replies came from European / international organisations. 68% are primarily interested in re-using public sector information, which means that the analysis of the results gives a more precise view of PSI re-users.

62 position papers were received either in addition to questionnaire answers (57) or as stand-alone contributions (5). This brings the overall number of contributions to the consultation to 278. These papers are being analysed and taken into account together with the statistical analysis of the questionnaire replies in the upcoming full report. This summary report focuses on the replies to the online questionnaire.

Preliminary findings

Section1: evaluation of the current Directive implementation

Respondents to this section have a general positive view on the Directive's current implementation, and consider that the Directive has fulfilled its efficiency, relevance, added-value and simplification promises.

However, respondents point out the problem of slow and costly redress procedures following rejected requests for re-use, and the limited circulation of PSI across the EU.  A quarter of respondents believe that the existence of exclusive agreements between public sector bodies and third parties continues to be an issue. Finally, two thirds of the 198 respondents consider that the variety of different licenses and re-use conditions still continue to be a barrier to an efficient and effective re-use of public sector information.

Section2: review of the Directive

This section, to which 206 respondents replied, identified areas which may benefit from EU intervention through the review of the PSI Directive.

As regards practical arrangements for access and search of documents, over a third of respondents believed that limited availability of dynamic data from public sector bodies is a problem, although a similar proportion either do not know or are of the opposite opinion. However, by and large there was agreement that more efforts are needed to address technical challenges (interoperability, standards, APIs).

Concerning the exceptions on the current default rule for charging for the re-use of public sector information  (marginal cost of dissemination), equal proportions of respondents (25%) agreed or disagreed with maintaining or changing this exception, or have no opinion about it. 49% of the 186 respondents to the question considered that the conditions for applying this exception should be clarified.

More than 90% of the 159 respondents to the question considered that scientific research results (publications and research data) resulting from public funding should in principle be available under open access. 81% of the 180 respondents to the question supported the idea that data of scientific nature held by such organisations should be available for re-use. Overall, the same proportion of respondents supported a common/harmonised European policy on access and re-use of scientific information binding on all research funding organisations and academic institutions in Europe.

Only 23% of the 193 respondents to the question considered that data generated in the context of the provision of a public task by publicly-owned companies or by independent economic operators are currently available for re-use.  There was strong support (71% of 197 respondents) for making available for re-use data generated in the context of a predominantly publicly funded public task, irrespective of the private or public nature of the entity providing the service.

Section 3: access by public sector bodies to data of public interest coming from private sector entities

88% of the 205 respondents to the question considered that access to data from private sector entities and its use by public authorities for reasons of public interest should be allowed. Almost the same proportion support specific legal measures to be put in place, essentially EU-wide sectoral legislation, general principles, or specific rights and guarantees.


Contributions to the consultation are available here:

Non anonymised contributions

Anonymised contributions

Additional position papers sent in the framework of the online consultation are available here.

Other consultation actions

A series of workshops and events were conducted to address various sub-topics of the PSI Directive review as well as the question of access to privately-held data for public interest:

  • Workshop on access to commercially-held data of public interest for public bodies (26 June 2017)
  • Meeting of representatives of the Member States, the so-called “PSI Group” (15 November 2017)
  • Meeting of the National Points of Reference on access to and preservation of scientific information (5 December 2017)
  • Workshop on access to scientific information and enlarging the scope of the PSI Directive to research data (14 December 2017)
  • Workshop for PSI holders and re-users (18 January 2018)
  • Public Hearing on the PSI Directive review (19 January 2018)
  • High-level roundtable on opening up data in transport and utilities sectors (23 January 2018).

Next steps

This online consultation is part of a broader stakeholder consultation process, which also includes workshops. A full synopsis report will provide qualitative analysis covering the online questionnaire replies, the position papers received, and the findings from the workshops, and will draw overall conclusions on these issues. It will be published on the DSM website in in the first half of 2018.

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