Building the European Data Economy – Free Flow of Data

Study on emerging issues of data ownership, interoperability, (re-)usability and access to data, and liability

Final report – Study


Analysing and understanding the European Data Economy has recently become a key concern for policy makers willing to enable data based services and products in Europe and willing to exploit all opportunities deriving from new (Big) Data technologies. Although the European Data economy is still "emerging", it is of utmost importance to identify and remove, at this stage, the barriers for its further development in order to achieve a well-functioning and competitive Digital Single Market. This study is a first attempt to characterise the legal, technical and other types of barriers which currently prevent the full deployment of the European Data Economy and which limit Business to Business (B2B) data sharing and re-use in Europe. Based on this analysis, a number of policy options for the future are put forward and considered from a coherence, effectiveness and efficiency perspective. This assessment shows that, at this stage of market development, policy makers should adopt horizontal non-legislative measures in order to build a better ground for a flourishing European Data Economy.

Background of the study

The European Commission is examining barriers to the free flow of data inside the EU and potential barriers to an efficient use and re-use of data across borders and across business sectors.

In October 2016 the European Commission (Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CONNECT) organised a high-level conference with a view of obtaining insights from stakeholders in different business sectors, deepening its understanding on emerging business models and on challenges and opportunities of data-driven innovation. The aim of the Commission is to build a functional data economy.

A consortium composed of Deloitte Belgium, WIK-Consult and Open Evidence as partners and OpenForum Europe and Timelex presented first findings of their study on emerging issues of data ownership, interoperability, (re)usability and access to data, and liability at a high-level conference with stakeholders.

A summary report of the high level conference on Building a Data Economy held in Brussels on the 17th of October 2016 was written by the consortium and can be downloaded here.

The scene was set by Commissioner Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy & Society who stated that "data has become a good with major socio-economic value. But to reap the full benefits of new technologies and services, data should flow across borders and across sectors".

The European Commission conducted a broad stakeholders consultation process, to establish further opportunities for stakeholders to express their views on these issues, including an online public consultation and three stakeholder workshops.

Topis of the project workshops:  

  • Data access and data sharing: the real impact on SMEs’ and start-ups' business models (Brussels, 29 May 2017)
  • Workshop with Member States representatives on the emerging issues of the data economy (Brussels, 31 May 2017). It assembled national experts from the EU Member States, in order to exchange opinions on the ways forward with regard to the emerging issues of the data economy such as access and transfer of non-personal data, data portability, liability in relation to IoT and Artificial intelligence. 
  • Workshop on the transformative effect of access and re-use of data for smart industries (Brussels, 6 June 2017)
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