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Digital Agenda: Commission consults on re-use of public sector data

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI). PSI covers all sorts of data generated by public sector bodies  - e.g. maps, meteorological, legal, traffic, financial and economic information - that can be re-used by anyone else in innovative products such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts, and travel information applications ("apps") that can be downloaded on smart phones. Public data that is reused (for free or for a fee) generates an estimated market turnover of at least € 27 billion in the EU every year, according to a 2006 study. Contributions to this consultation will feed into the review of the PSI Directive, part of the Digital Agenda for Europe that aims to contribute to the EU goals of increasing competitiveness, innovation and job creation. The consultation will run until 30 November 2010.

Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, said: "Better and more use of public sector information has great potential to generate new businesses and jobs and to provide consumers with more choice and more value for money. The mobile apps market, partly based on PSI-generated data, could grow to € 15 billion by 2013. However, much of Europe's PSI is insufficiently or even sometimes not exploited. We cannot lose out on this opportunity. We need to consider whether and how the EU rules on re-use of PSI should be amended to fully unlock PSI's economic potential."

All interested parties are invited to send their views on key issues of PSI re-use and, in particular, on possible amendments to the provisions of the current Directive. These relate to the scope, charging fees and licensing of data, the definition and digital format available to users; practical measures like the need for awareness-raising through national web portals; and the effects of changes that have taken place and/or barriers that still exist.

A revision of the PSI Directive is one of the key actions of the Digital Agenda for Europe Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). In its policy strategy, the Commission highlighted that governments can stimulate content markets by making public sector information available on transparent, effective and non-discriminatory terms. This is an important source of potential growth of innovative on-line services.


The EU PSI Directive was adopted on 17 November 2003. It regulates the behaviour of public sector bodies participating in the market for re-use of public data and encourages EU countries to adopt proactive PSI re-use policies. The Directive has helped to remove some of the barriers to re-use, such as monopoly positions of public sector bodies or lack of transparency in the market for re-usable public data.

In 2009, the Commission reviewed the way in which EU PSI rules were being applied, which confirmed that PSI-re use has been on the rise and that Member States and public sector bodies have taken measures to facilitate this. The 2003 Directive had a positive impact in several fields such as geographical and meteorological sectors. However, the Commission also warned that to realise the full potential of PSI for the EU economy, EU Member States must remove remaining barriers to re-use. These include discrimination between potential users, excessive charges for public sector information re-use and complex licensing policies. It also pointed to practical problems such as lack of awareness of what public sector information is available, and public sector bodies failing to realise the economic potential of their data.

The Commission concluded that the 2003 Directive in its present form has not yet achieved its full impact and decided to run a further review at the latest in 2012, when more evidence on the impact, effects and application of EU rules on public sector information will be available. This review is one the Key Actions of the Digital Agenda for Europe. The results of the consultation will feed into the review.

On-line consultation on the PSI Directive:

Commission's Public Sector Information Website:


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