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EU members provide boost for open data



National representatives to the EU have agree on a position aimed at making public sector data easier and cheaper to re-use and extend the relevant rules to the transport and utilities sectors.

The Permanent Representatives Committee has agreed on a stance for the EU presidency to take in negotiations with the European Parliament on the Draft directive on open data and the re-use of public sector information.

The European Council said it is significant that the notion of open data has been added to the title of the proposal, thereby reinforcing the concept to mean it comes in open formats for free use and sharing.

It added the move would make public sector data normally available either for free or at marginal cost, but the rules would recognise the need for some public sector bodies to impose limited charges in certain situations.

Among the main clauses are that the agreement will extend the scope of the rules beyond public sector bodies to include public undertakings in the transport and utilities sectors. While it will be up to national governments to decide if these sectors are required to make data available, if they do so it should be within the same principles as those for public sector bodies, including on transparency, non-discrimination and exclusive arrangements.

The rules would also be extended to include publicly funded research data that is already available in public repositories. Such data would need to be made re-usable, for example by specifying appropriate licensing conditions.

Member states would also have to establish national open access policies to support the availability of research data.

API requirement

Among the draft rules is that dynamic data, such as real time transport or weather data coming from sensors or satellites, would have to be made available via APIs.

High value datasets would need to be available for free throughout the EU and should be machine readable and automatically transferable through an API. The Commission would draw up a list of specific types of high value datasets in a separate implementing act, which would apply to both public bodies and public undertakings.

Assuming the directive comes into force, member states would have two years to adopt national provisions to put it into practice. They would be able to go beyond the minimum standards laid down in the directive.

The proposal is a key component of the data package published by the European Commission in April 2018 under the Digital Single Market strategy.

Margarete Schramböck, Austria’s minister for digital and economic affairs, said: “Today's agreement shows that the public sector is leading the way on data sharing. Smaller firms and start-ups can't always afford to buy public sector data, so increased availability and lower costs can help enable ground-breaking innovation from which we all stand to benefit.”

Image: EU, public domain through Wikimedia

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