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Commission encourages re-use of public sector data

The European Commission is publishing guidelines to help Member States benefit from the revisedDirective on the re-use of public sector information (PSI Directive). These guidelines explain for example how to give access to weather data, traffic data, property asset data and maps. Open data can be used as the basis for innovative value-added services and products, such as mobile apps, which encourage investment in data-driven sectors. The guidelines published are based on a detailed consultation and cover issues such as:

  1. Licencing: guidelines on when public bodies can allow the re-use of documents without conditions or licences; gives conditions under which the re-use of personal data is possible. For example:

  • Public sector bodies should not impose licences when a simple notice is sufficient;

  • Open licences available on the web, such as several "Creative Commons" licences can facilitate the re-use of public sector data without the need to develop custom-made licences;

  • Attribution requirement is sufficient in most cases of PSI re-use.

  1. Datasets: presents five thematic dataset categories that businesses and other potential re-users are mostly interested in and could thus be given priority for being made available for re-use. For example:

  • Postcodes, national and local maps;

  • Weather, land and water quality, energy consumption, emission levels and other environmental and earth data;

  • Transport data: public transport timetables, road works, traffic information;

  • Statistics: GDP, age, health, unemployment, income, education etc.;

  • Company and business registers.

  1. Cost: gives an overview on how public sector bodies, including libraries, museums and archives, should calculate the amount they should charge re-users for data. For example:

  • Where digital documents are downloaded electronically a no‑cost policy is recommended;

  • For cost-recovery charging, any income generated in the process of collecting or producing documents, e.g. from registration fees or taxes, should be subtracted from the total costs incurred so as to establish the ‘net cost’ of collection, production, reproduction and dissemination.

European Commission Vice President @NeelieKroesEU said: "This guidance will help all of us benefit from the wealth of information public bodies hold. Opening and re-using this data will lead to many new businesses and convenient services."

An independent report carried out by the consultants McKinsey in 2013 claimed that open data re-use could boost the global economy hugely; and a 2013 Spanish study found that commercial re-users in Spain could employ around 10,000 people and reach a business volume of €900 million.


PSI guidelines were prepared on the basis of contributions to a Public Consultation in autumn 2013 and following recommendations by a dedicated expert group (PSI Group). These guidelines should assist Member States in transposing the revised PSI Directive into national legislation by the July 2015 deadline.

By contributing to the opening up of public sector datasets, this initiative complements the recently announced EU actions aiming at building up a data-driven economy, including funding under the Connecting Europe Facility.

Opening up public sector information (PSI) for re-use may bring major socio-economic benefits, provided the right policy and regulatory framework is in place. In December 2011, the Commission adopted a package of measures including the recently adopted Directive 2013/37/EU amending Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information.

The importance of PSI re-use has since then been recognised worldwide, including by the G8 countries, as witnessed by the signature of a G8 Open Data Charter.

These guidelines were prepared on the basis of contributions to an online consultation followed by a public hearing and a meeting of a Member States expert group on PSI.

Useful links


Commission Notice – Guidelines on recommended standard licences, datasets and charging for the re-use of documents

Revision of the PSI Directive

Digital Agenda

European Big Data Strategy

Digital Agenda

Neelie Kroes

Follow @NeelieKroesEU


Email: Tel: +32.229.57361 Twitter: @RyanHeathEU

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