A first initiative in the EU data strategy to capture the enormous potential of ‘Big Data’ appears to be nearing completion. On 1 October, EU Member States agreed on a common position with respect to the proposal for a Data Governance Act (DGA).

To recall, the aim of the proposed Act is to set up robust mechanisms to facilitate the re-use of certain categories of protected public sector data, increase data availability and foster trust in intermediation services. Among other elements, the DGA introduces conditions under which public sector bodies may allow the re-use of certain data they hold, notably data which is protected on the grounds of commercial confidentiality, intellectual property rights or personal data.

The DGA is therefore designed to complement the Open Data Directive from 2019 by addressing data that until now could not be made available as open data. Public sector bodies allowing re-use of data must safeguard the protection of rights by technical means, such as anonymisation, secure processing environments, or by finding an appropriate legal basis by, for example, supporting potential re-users in seeking consent from data subjects.

Compared to the original Commission proposal, the Council position has put forward amendments designed to avoid creating costly obligations on the public sector and taking account of national specificities that already exist in some Member States.

Once adopted, the Act will also create a new legislative framework for data intermediation services such as digital platforms in which companies will be able to share their data without the risk of misuse or loss of competitive advantage. Obligations will be imposed on providers facilitating the sharing of personal and non-personal data. The proposal will also facilitate ‘data altruism’ by encouraging companies to make data available voluntarily for the common good, such as promoting personalised medicine, green mobility or smart manufacturing.

This legislative initiative also creates a formal expert group, the European Data Innovative Board, which will be tasked with advising on cross-sectoral standardisation and the interoperability of data intermediation services. This group is also due to help in ensuring a consistent approach to processing requests for public-sector data.

Next steps

Following Member States’ agreement of a negotiating mandate, the current Slovenian Presidency will now begin inter-institutional (trilogue) negotiations with the European Parliament to reach consensus on a final text.

For further information contact Francine Cunningham

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