EU launches a bold new European Strategy for Data

Today in Brussels, the European Commission has published a Communication on “A European Strategy for Data”. It is a citizen-centric vision, based on European traditions, values and rules, and outlines a set of measures and investments for the data economy for the next five years.

The aim is that, by 2030, the EU’s share of the data economy corresponds to its economic weight, by creating an EU single market for data. The strategy is focused on four pillars: governance; enablers, skills and rolling-out of common European data spaces in certain economic sectors. According to the Strategy the Commission favours an agile approach over an “overly detailed and heavy-handed ex ante regulation”.

The Governance of common European data spaces is the first piece of legislation expected in Q4 2020 and will focus on creating a framework of governance mechanisms for sectoral data spaces and cross-sector data use, as well as for the use of data for research purposes and the use of individual’s data for public good.

The Data Act, expected in 2021, could encompass both business-to-government (B2G) and business-to-business (B2B) data sharing. It is also likely to focus on the Intellectual Property Rights Framework, including possible revision of the Database Directive and clarification of the Trade Secrets Protection Directive implementation. It will also focus on general data literacy, including the creation of a network of data stewards from private and public organisations, as well as individual data literacy, including the creation of a portability right to give individuals more control over their data.

Following the provisions at Article 14 of the revised PSI directive, the Commission is also working on an implementing regulation to specify the sector-specific high-value datasets mentioned in Annex I of the Directive. A public consultation is expected during Q2 2020 on this.

In addition through its Observatory of the Online Platform Economy, the Commission will analyse the role of data in the digital economy in Q4 2020. This assessment could lead to a review of the Platform-to-Business (P2B) regulation. This could be part of the Digital Services Act package, expected at the end of the year.

The Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programmes are expected to contribute to some data activities at EU level, including establishing the data spaces, doing further research on innovative data tech and data management applications, as well as supporting a public-private partnership on AI, data and robotics.

Also the Commission wants to enable “access to competitive, secure and fair European cloud services”, notably by creating a European federation of “energy-efficient and trustworthy” cloud infrastructure and services. The Strategy states that this project should be linked with other initiatives such as Gaia-X. The Commission is also looking into signing memoranda of understanding with Member States (Q3 2020) to avoid fragmented and parallel cloud initiatives. It will also launch a European cloud services marketplace (Q2 2022), allowing users to select services specifically certified, and create an EU regulatory rulebook (Q2 2022) to ensure that cloud services operating in the EU comply with relevant legislation and self-regulatory initiatives.

The Commission identified the following key sectors and domains of public interest for Common European data spaces: Industry, manufacturing, “Green” data, sustainable development, mobility, health, finance, energy, agriculture, public administration, skills.

techUK’s Associate Director, Tech and Innovation Sue Daley commented on the launch of the EU’s Data Strategy:

“Today, the European Commission has set out a bold vision and strategy for Europe’s data driven future. We welcome the vision of an EU with a strong digital economy and share many of the European values outlined in the strategy including making sure technologies work for people in their everyday lives. We also share many of the same challenges, such as getting responsible data innovation right and building public trust and confidence in data-driven technologies.  

The data innovations that come from this strategy will be key to the digital transformation of European organisations, society and individuals, including those in the UK.  To remain globally competitive, Europe must continue to be open to world-leading talent and innovation. The UK has a lot to contribute and stands ready to help. For example, the work of UK institutions, such as the ODI’s work on data trusts that could provide a template for the creation of common EU data spaces. Also pioneering initiatives from UK regulators, such as the FCA and ICO sandboxes, provide a useful blueprint for creating a more competitive European data industry. techUK looks forward to working closely with Europe as it begins this new chapter on its data and digital journey.”

techUK will be working with its members on the many issues outlined in the European Commission’s strategy. If you would be interested in contributing to this work please get in with

  • Sue Daley

    Sue Daley

    Associate Director | Technology & Innovation
    T 020 7331 2055

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