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EU Directive about the re-use of opendata

European Union is working hard to make public sector information held by its Member States easily accessible to everyone. We will try to explain how they are trying to achieve this.

Let’s start from the beginning. Directive 2003/98/EC, also known as the ‘PSI Directive’ was the first document dealing with the re-use of public data which entered into force on 31 December 2003. It's main purpose was to support the evolution towards the society of information and knowledge, in which information about the public sector is freely available and plays an important role.

The first step towards achieving this goal was to ensure fair, proportionate and non-discriminatory conditions for the re-use of such information. A general framework was created and the policies governing national rules and practices on the re-use of public sector put into place.

First revision came with the Directive 2013/37/EU, which entered into force on 17 July 2013. EU Member States were obliged to adapt it by 18 July 2015. The aim of this revision was to reach the goals of the original directive and expand its impact by opening the market for services based on public sector information.The main changes were:

  • expanding the scope of application of the Directive to institutions such as libraries (including university libraries), museums and archives;
  • limiting the fees that the public authorities can charge at the marginal costs as a rule;
  • Introducing an independent supervision over the compliance with the re-use policies in the Member States;
  • making machine-readable formats for information held by public authorities the norm.

The Commission carried out a review of the application of Directive 2013/37/EU based on the results of public online consultation in the form of a proposal for a revision of the Directive, which was adopted by the European Commission on 25 April 2018. The proposal aims to overcome the main barriers that still prevent the full re-use of public sector information, which are listed in the impact assessment.

The proposed changes are:

  • Reduce market entry barriers, in particular for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), by limiting the exceptions that allow public bodies to charge for the re-use of their data more than the marginal costs of dissemination;
  • Increase the availability of data by bringing new types of public and publicly funded data into the scope of the Directive, such as data held by public undertakings in the utilities and transport sectors and research data resulting from public funding;
  • Minimise the risk of excessive first-mover advantage, which benefits large companies and thereby limits the number of potential re-users of the data in question, by requiring a more transparent process for the establishment of public–private data arrangements;
  • Increase business opportunities by encouraging the dissemination of dynamic data via application programming interfaces (APIs).

On 4 April 2019, the European Parliament approved the recast of the Open Data and Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive. Now is the European Commissionworking with the Member States on the identification of high-value datasets, which will be set out in an Implementing Act. The concrete high-value datasets will then have to be made freely and openly available for re-use in all Member States.

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EU Directive about the re-use of opendata

European Union is working hard to make public sector information held by its Member States easily accessible to everyone. We will try to explain how they are trying to achieve this.

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