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Shaping Europe’s digital future


Data is everywhere and growing at an unprecedented pace. The Commission has developed a European data strategy to help us unlock its benefits.

Data Strategy: A Blueprint for an EU data model

Data is an essential building block of modern societies, and we are constantly producing more of it: citizens create data while browsing the internet, booking travel, or buying clothes online, and public bodies generate data from weather tracking and traffic monitoring. So, you might not be surprised to hear that the quantity of data that exists is expected to multiply by five between 2018 and 2025.

In the digital age, we are able to process these vast quantities of data faster than we ever imagined and put it to an almost endless variety of uses. Used correctly, data can bring benefits to citizens such as personalised medicines, cheaper public services, safer and cleaner public transport, and much more.

Data is a driver of innovation for industries and SMEs to develop new products and services. Data also contributes to the European Green Deal: it helps to protect our planet by optimising our energy efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint. By collecting information on the environment, data can help us fight climate emergencies, such as floods and wildfires. And, by monitoring the energy consumption of buildings and cars, data can help us reduce our carbon production. 

To leverage this potential, data needs to be shared in a trusted way respecting EU rules and values. For example, in the area of data protection, and respect of intellectual property and trade secrets. Hence, our initiative involves crafting a framework with explicit guidelines — a European single market for data - that balances openness with sovereignty. This initiative is poised to serve as a catalyst for innovation and creation of new jobs.

In 2020, a transformative era for data commenced with the introduction of the European data strategy in February. This strategy delineated initiatives aimed at fully realizing the potential of data. It includes measures to ensure the protection of data, ensuring secure and dependable storage. Furthermore, the strategy establishes distinct objectives and regulations to transparently and reliably leverage data for the benefit of citizens, businesses, researchers, and public administrations.

Key elements of the European data strategy include:

  • allowing data to flow freely within the EU and across sectors;
  • overcoming barriers to sharing, through technical infrastructure, legal rules and ethical guidelines;
  • fostering the development of collections of sector-specific data;
  • ensuring EU autonomy in supplying European cloud services.

What has been achieved so far?

The Data Governance Act  (in force since September 2023) aims at facilitating data sharing across the EU and between sectors to create growth, increase control and trust of both citizens and companies regarding their data. It is also part of the EU efforts to establish a European model for handling data - an alternative to the practices employed by major tech platforms. This milestone in data policy also promotes the development of European data spaces, boosting data sharing across various domains, including energy, mobility, health, and the European Green Deal.

More milestones are to come during the Digital Decade. The Data Act helps creating a fair data economy, in which European companies and citizens have more control over their data, and governments can make better use of big data held by the private sector for the benefit of society. In addition, new rules on high-value datasets under the Open Data Directive ensure access to certain datasets across the EU for free, for example meteorological and mobility data.

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A European strategy for data

The strategy for data focuses on putting people first in developing technology, and defending and promoting European values and rights in the digital world.