Proposal for a Regulation on European Data Governance (Data Governance Act)

The proposal is the first of a set of measures announced in the 2020 European strategy for data.

The instrument aims to foster the availability of data for use by increasing trust in data intermediaries and by strengthening data-sharing mechanisms across the EU.

Brussels, 25.11.2020, COM(2020) 767 final

The instrument would address the following situations:

– Making public sector data available for re-use, in situations where such data is subject to rights of others
(notably on grounds of protection of personal data, but also protection of intellectual property rights and commercial confidentiality)

Sharing of data among businesses, against remuneration in any form.

– Allowing personal data to be used with the help of a ‘personal data-sharing intermediary’,
designed to help individuals exercise their rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

– Allowing data use on altruistic grounds (data voluntarily made available by individuals or companies for the common good)

The instrument draws inspiration from the principles for data management and re-use developed for research data.
The FAIR data principles stipulate that such data should, in principle, be findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable.

“Under the proposed regulation, data intermediaries will be required to notify the competent public
authority of their intention to provide such services. Public authorities will monitor compliance with
the requirements and the Commission will keep a register of data intermediaries.

Many companies currently fear that sharing their data would imply a loss of competitive advantage
and represent a risk of misuse. Trusted providers of data-sharing services (so-called data

intermediaries, such as data marketplaces) will pool and organise data neutrally to increase trust. To
ensure this neutrality, the data-sharing intermediary cannot exchange the data for its own interest
(e.g. by selling it to another company or using it to develop their own product based on this data)
and will have to comply with strict requirements to ensure this neutrality. Both stand-alone
organisations providing data sharing services
only and companies that offer data sharing services
next to other services will be allowed.

The new regulation will provide a good governance framework supporting the common European data
spaces and will ensure that data can be made available voluntarily by data holders.

It will complement the upcoming rules on high-value datasets under the Open Data Directive which
will ensure access to certain datasets across the EU for free, in machine-readable format and through
standardised Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The reuse of such datasets can have major
benefits for society and the economy, for example geospatial data, mobility data, and earth
observation and environment data.

In 2021, more dedicated proposals on data spaces are expected, for example a European Health Data
Space and a Green Deal Data Space. They will be complemented by a Data Act that will give citizens
and governments better access to and control over IoT data from industry and big data sources held
by businesses in order to create a fairer economy and benefit society as a whole.”

Interoperability / Broker System

Application of European Interoperability Framework (EIF) principles and through the utilisation of standards and specifications such as the Core Vocabularies  and the CEF Building Blocks, CEF Connecting Europe Framework Context Broker

ISA² Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens


My selected personal remarks:

  • Many application domains (digitalization strategy) will take these EU strategies and intentions for their entry point into Interoperability.
  • For domains with long experience in Interoperability, the extension into personal data, intellectual property rights and commercial confidentiality aspects are essential.
  • New professional business structures (“data intermediaries” under public supervision to ensure neutrality and trust) offer opportunities for those experienced in current comparable work
    (in many countries, such professional principles are organized since years under the auspieces of Chambers (Chambers of Engineering, Chambers of Commerce, etc.) as corporations under public law
  • The reference to semantic interoperability in the current proposal is mainly given in a footnote (44) and explicitly refers to vocabularies
    (I would prefer a reference to current best practice of full semantic interoperability explicitly in the text of the intended directive)
    although multilingual standard vocabularies are recognized very helpful, full semantic interoperability negotiated in multinational experts committees goes far beyond such.
  • CONTEXT Metainformation:  While I always voted for separating data from context, here it should be made clear how “context” refers and compares to dataset full metadata specifications standards (not only (implicitly) to GeoJason )
  • I do not find a paragraph on the massive tasks of elaborating original dataset full standardised descriptions/metadata that are necessary for all data users and application systems.
    Nowadays one could expect that not only “availability” details but also best practice analysis and complex workflow choreography
    (maybe I overlooked that fact, anyone knowing mor details in this respect, please indicate)
  • Full metainformation (including quality measures) of (combined) results from shared multi-source information use should be expected.
    The necessary european testbeds seem not to be mentioned.
  • In operational terms we certainly will face a time of interesting discussions on technical and legal issues  once such proposal becomes a formal legal framework for our work.

Horst Kremers