MEPs adopted rules to facilitate making more data available to help create new products and innovation, in particular in Artificial Intelligence.

The Industry, Research and Energy Committee adopted on Thursday its position on the EU Data Governance Act (DGA), aimed at increasing trust in data sharing, create new EU rules on neutrality of data marketplaces and facilitate the reuse of certain data held by the public sector e.g. certain health, agricultural or environmental data, which were previously not available under the Open Data Directive.                                                                      Facilitating data sharing is also a precondition for unlocking the potential of Artificial Intelligence and help start-ups and businesses develop an ecosystem based on EU standards and values.                                                                                                                   MEPs clarified the scope of the legislation especially regarding data intermediation services, in order to make sure that big tech companies are covered by the framework. Public sector bodies should avoid the conclusion of agreements creating exclusive rights for the re-use of certain data, say MEPs, who propose to limit exclusive agreements to a period of 12 months, in an effort to make more data available to SMEs and start-ups.                 Sensitive public sector data may be transferred to third countries only where it benefits from a similar level of protection as in the EU. The Commission will declare if a third country provides such protection, via a delegated act, which allows Parliament to have a say on the decision.                                                                                                           MEPs also say that member states should lay down penalties for infringements.

Data altruism

To exploit the potential in the use of data made available voluntarily by informed consent or general interest, such as scientific research, healthcare, combating climate change or improving mobility, the legislation should set up pools of data on a voluntary registration scheme of ‘data altruism’ organisations recognised in the EU.

“A Schengen for data”

“The aim of my report was to make data sharing easier, not harder, especially for SMEs. There lies enormous potential for growth and innovation in a functioning data economy. The DGA will help kick-start this development” said lead MEP Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE).       “In Europe, we were late on the personal data revolution that fuelled the growth of today´s big digital companies. An industrial data revolution is now coming. We want to be ahead of the curve by establishing ground rules to ensure fair competition and access to data from the beginning – that is why we put neutrality and trust at the core of this proposal for a data governance in Europe. The vision is a “Schengen for data”. Data should move easily, safely and freely across the EU”, she said.

The report was adopted in the committee with 66 votes to 0, with 6 abstentions. The committee also voted in favour to give a mandate for the start of inter-institutional talks by 66 votes to 1 and 5 abstentions.

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 this data to be harnessed and will pave the way for sectoral European data spaces to benefit society, citizens and companies.