Unlocking the goldmine: new legal proposals to open up Europe’s public sector « Digital Agenda Commissioner – Neelie Kroes

Imagine we had a resource available that could stimulate new innovations, a market worth tens of billions of euros, and increase the transparency and governance of public life. We do – it's the data held by Europe's public institutions. And today I announced legal proposals to unlock this treasure trove. Benefiting not just web entrepreneurs, but journalists, academics, anyone who has a smartphone or uses public services. 

The test site for the Commission's own data portal - going live 2012
Already out there, many institutions have freed up their public data; and many people are making use of them. The UK, France and Denmark are leading the way in Europe; while all together, public sector information generates over 30 billion euros per year in economic activity, with services from geo-location services to weather forecasts. By opening up this resource fully, we could more than double the value of this activity – to around €70 billion. This opening up can generate tax revenues which far exceed revenue from any fees previously charged for the data. But the benefits aren't just economic. They improve the transparency of our democratic and public institutions. They can improve the quality of decision-making within public administrations themselves – through informed, evidence-based policymaking. And they can help those from all sectors of society – like apps that help people with disabilities find wheelchair-accessible buildings. Today's legal proposals are in two parts. First, the Commission itself will be practising what we preach, putting our own data on a single portal, free, open, easy to use. And we are pushing the EU's other institutions and agencies to join us too. Second, we are proposing changes to the Public Sector Information Directive. Changes which will make accessing public data from any level within the EU:
  • Cheaper (with fees, if anything, set at just marginal costs)
  • Easy to use, with an automatic right to re-use, no need for complicated authorisations
  • Wider in scope – as we include valuable cultural material, from libraries, archives and museums - although for these institutions, it will be under rules which respect their particular commercial vulnerability
All together, these measures can show the way to public authorities, and unlock a revolution in the use of Government data. My message to public authorities is clear: you don't have to wait for this package to become law.  You can give away your data now – and generate revenue and jobs, and even save money from the better information and decisions that will flow.