May 27, 2022

Europe: Open Data: Turning Government Data into Gold


The Commission has launched an Open Data Strategy for Europe, which is expected to deliver a €40 billion boost to the EU’s economy each year. Europe’s public administrations are sitting on a goldmine of unrealised economic potential: the large volumes of information collected by numerous public authorities and services. Member States such as the United Kingdom and France are already demonstrating this value. The strategy to lift performance EU-wide is three-fold: firstly the Commission will lead by example, opening its vaults of information to the public for free through a new data portal. Secondly, a level playing field for open data across the EU will be established. Finally, these new measures are backed by the €100 million which will be granted in 2011-2013 to fund research into improved data-handling technologies.


Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “We are sending a strong signal to administrations today. Your data is worth more if you give it away. So start releasing it now: use this framework to join the other smart leaders who are already gaining from embracing open data. Taxpayers have already paid for this information, the least we can do is give it back to those who want to use it in new ways that help people and create jobs and growth.” See Mrs Kroes video quote here.

The Commission proposes to update the 2003 Directive on the re-use of public sector information by:

  • Making it a general rule that all documents made accessible by public sector bodies can be re-used for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, unless protected by third party copyright;
  • Establishing the principle that public bodies should not be allowed to charge more than costs triggered by the individual request for data (marginal costs); in practice this means most data will be offered for free or virtually for free, unless duly justified.
  • Making it compulsory to provide data in commonly-used, machine-readable formats, to ensure data can be effectively re-used.
  • Introducing regulatory oversight to enforce these principles;
  • Massively expanding the reach of the Directive to include libraries, museums and archives for the first time; the existing 2003 rules will apply to data from such institutions.
  • In addition, the Commission will make its own data public through a new “data portal”, for which the Commission has already agreed the contract. This portal is currently in ‘beta version’ (development and testing phase) with an expected launch in spring 2012. In time this will serve as a single-access point for re-usable data from all EU institutions, bodies and agencies and national authorities.

Read the Complete Agenda

See Also: European Commission Open Data website

See Also: Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information

See Also: Review of recent studies on PSI re-use and related market developments (Vickery Study)

See Also: Open data: An engine for innovation, growth and transparent governance (13 pages; PDF. Provisional Version)

See Also: A proposal for a revision of the Commission’s rules on re-use of the documents it holds (9 pages; PDF. Provisional Version)

See Also: A proposal for a revision of the Directive (19 pages; PDF; Provisional Version)

The draft proposal for a revision of the Directive proposes to further open up the market for services based on public-sector information, by

  • including new bodies in the scope of application of the Directive such as libraries (including university libraries), museums and archives;
  • limiting the fees that can be charged by the public authorities at the marginal costs as a rule;
  • introducing independent oversight over re-use rules in the Member States;
  • making machine-readable formats for information held by public authorities the norm.

Study: Assessment of the different models of supply and charging for public sector information” (SMART 2010/0046)


Kroes Pushes E.U. Open Data Policy (via WSJ)

EU to Make All Public Data Available in Digital Formats (via IDG News Service)

A number of countries including the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have already created portal websites on accessible data, while last week France launched a portal exactly along the lines of the Commission’s proposal. But other member states lag and only make their data available in paper format.

If approved by the European Parliament and the member states, the proposal is likely to come into effect in 2013. Member states would then have 18 months to implement it into their national legislation.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.