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The European Commission Releases its Strategy for Data

The EU recently released a communication on the future data strategy for Europe outlining a strategy for policy measures and investments to enable the data economy in Europe for the next five years. This strategy was launched at the same time as the Commission’s Communication on “Shaping Europe’s digital future”.

The data strategy paper outlines specific measures that can be taken to keep the EU at the forefront of the data-agile economy, but at the same time promoting the values of the EU.

“This Communication puts forward a European data strategy whose ambition is to enable the EU to become the most attractive, most secure and most dynamic data-agile economy in the world – empowering Europe with data to improve decisions and better the lives of all of its citizens. It enumerates a number of policy measures and investments needed to achieve this goal.”

In order for EU to acquire a leading role in the data economy, they have recognised the need to address issues ranging from connectivity to processing and storage of data, computing power and cybersecurity and to improve its governance structures for handling data and to increase its pools of quality data available for use and reuse.

The European data strategy aims to give businesses in the EU the opportunity to make the most of the Single Market. It will ensure that data can flow within the EU and across sectors, that laws and regulations are upheld with particular focus on personal data protection, consumer protection legislation and competition law. It also will ensure that rules for access to and use of data are fair, practical and clear and that there is an open approach to international data flows.

Four pillars of the Data Strategy

The EU strategy is built on four pillars: A cross-sectoral governance framework for data access and use; Enablers: Investments in data and strengthening Europe’s capabilities and infrastructures for hosting, processing and using data, interoperability; Competencies: Empowering individuals, investing in skills and in SMEs; and Common European data spaces in strategic sectors and domains of public interest.

A cross-sectoral governance framework for data access and use

The first priority is to put in place a legislative framework for the governance of common European data spaces by the end of 2020. This framework will support decisions on what data can be used in which situations, facilitate cross-border data use, and prioritise interoperability requirements and standards within and across sectors. The framework will reinforce the necessary structures in the Member States and at EU level to facilitate the use of data for innovative business ideas, both at sector-specific and from a cross-sector perspective.

Investments in data and Strengthening capabilities and infrastructures for hosting, processing and using data

There will be investments made into a High Impact project on European data spaces and data sharing architectures which include standards for data sharing, best practices, tools and governance structures. The first implementation phase is expected for 2022. Other steps planned are to sign a Memoranda of Understanding with the Member States on cloud federation by the third quarter 2020 as well as launching a European cloud services marketplace and create an EU regulatory cloud rulebook by the end of 2022.

Empowering individuals, investing in skills and in SMEs

The EU will encourage its citizens to take control of their data through tools to enable decisions about what is done with their data. They will invest in skills and general data literacy and by 2025, the EU and the Member States hope to half the current gap of 1 million digital specialists, with a focus on increasing the participation of women. The European SME strategy will set out steps to support SMEs and start-ups in which data plays a big role.

Create common European data sector spaces and domains of public interest

The Commission will promote the development of common European data spaces in strategic economic sectors and domains of public interest. These sectors are those where the use of data will have an impact on the entire ecosystem and its citizens. A framework will measure data flows and estimate their economic value within Europe, and between Europe and the rest of the world by the end of 2021.

EU to seize the opportunities the data economy presents

The report concludes that “A European way for handling data will ensure that more data becomes available for addressing societal challenges and for use in the economy while respecting and promoting our European shared values. In order to secure its digital future, the EU has to seize its window of opportunity in the data economy.”

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