Data Governance Act, the new features of the proposal for a new European regulation

Camilla Palla

In line with the European Data Strategy announced by the European Commission last February, the proposal for a new regulation on Data governance was proposed this week. The regulation is designed to facilitate data sharing through the creation of a single market for data and support the development of nine European Data Spaces in various sectors, from industry to energy and from health to a green deal. All with a clear objective: to increase security and control standards, strengthen the trust of citizens and businesses and offer an alternative data management model to that of the main technology platforms. To achieve this goal, the regulation aims to standardise the existing regulatory framework for marketing and data sharing within the Union and between the public sector, private sector and intermediaries.

Currently, the legislative framework for data protection involves three main pieces of legislation – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Regulation on the free flow of non-personal data and the Open Data Directive. The Data Governance Regulation is the first of the initiatives in the Commission’s work programme for 2021 and will be complemented by the long-awaited Data Act, scheduled for the third quarter of next year.

The economic and social value of data, its management and sharing, is already impressive and increasingly evident. Data is considered the future engine of the European economy and industry, fundamental to support research and innovation in a wide range of sectors. The regulation, therefore, provides a solid framework for citizens, businesses and governments to benefitting from its rules, sharing mechanisms, technical standards and secure infrastructures, in order to make data management and access to data within the European Union more efficient and legally sound.

With the ever-growing role of industrial data in our economy, Europe needs an open yet sovereign Single Market for data” said Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, “Flanked by the right investments and key infrastructures, our regulation will help Europe become the world’s number one data continent.”

For the moment, the so-called data economy weighs on the GDP of the Union for 2.6%. Access to large amounts of data is a fundamental resource to boost the development of the European economic and industrial environment. The amount of data generated by public authorities, businesses and citizens is constantly growing and is set to increase fivefold between 2018 and 2025. Their management falls under the directive on open data which, however, does not regulate the processing of all the data that cannot be made available as it falls under the category of personal information.

To ensure that this vast amount of data could be exploited in full respect of the fundamental values and principles of the EU, the regulation introduces a new management mechanism based on the neutrality and transparency of intermediaries – or brokers – who will play a merely impartial role. Their task, carried out under the supervision of the supervisory authorities, will be to gather and reorganise data in a neutral manner. In addition, they will have to be included in an official register of which the Commission will be the guarantor.

The creation of European data spaces, proper infrastructures based on a solid governance mechanism will allow for the exchange and mutual use of information in nine strategic sectors – health, environment, energy, agriculture, mobility, finance, manufacturing industry, public administration and skills. Two billion euros will be dedicated to the development of these infrastructures and will be covered by the Digital Europe and Connecting Europe Facility programmes.

Everyone should be able to benefit from this new tool. It will be easier for citizens to express their consent on the use of their data, companies will be able to experience a significant reduction in costs related to data acquisition, integration and processing, as well as lower barriers to market access and reduced time to market for new products and services.

Member States will have to equip themselves with the technical means to ensure full respect for privacy and confidentiality, such as anonymisation or data processing in dedicated infrastructures managed and controlled by the public sector. Whenever data is transferred to a new user, appropriate mechanisms will ensure compliance with the General Regulation and protect the commercial confidentiality of the data.

Finally, the regulation involves the creation of a group of experts, the European Data Innovation Board, to promote and facilitate the sharing of best practices by public administrations and relevant intermediaries.

Here you can find the output report entitled ” The European way to data economy. Taking stock and looking ahead” from the Institute for Competitiveness (I-Com).

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