The European Commission has published proposals for new rules on data governance in a bid to enable easier data-sharing between sectors and member states.

Under the plan, published yesterday, “neutral and transparent” data intermediaries would be used to organise data sharing and pooling of data to increase trust. This would represent an alternative model to the data handling practice of major tech platforms, the commission said.

To ensure this neutrality, the data-sharing intermediary cannot deal in the data on its own account and would have to comply with strict requirements, the commission said. Both stand-alone organisations providing data sharing services only and companies that offer data sharing services next to other services would be allowed but the data-sharing activity would have to be strictly separated from other data services.

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

The proposed regulation includes:

  • A number of measures to increase trust in data sharing, as the lack of trust is currently a major obstacle and results in high costs.
  • The creation of new EU rules on neutrality to allow novel data intermediaries to function as trustworthy organisers of data sharing.
  • Measures to facilitate the reuse of certain data held by the public sector. For example, the reuse of health data could advance research to find cures for rare or chronic diseases.
  • Means to give Europeans control on the use of the data they generate, by making it easier and safer for companies and individuals to voluntarily make their data available

The proposal is the first plank of the European Strategy for Data, which “aims to unlock the economic and societal potential of data and technologies like Artificial Intelligence, while respecting EU rules and values”.

“We are defining a truly European approach to data sharing. With the ever-growing role of industrial data in our economy, Europe needs an open yet sovereign Single Market for data. Flanked by the right investments and key infrastructures, our regulation will help Europe become the world’s number one data continent.”

Thierry Breton, commissioner for the internal market

More dedicated proposals on data spaces are expected to follow in 2021, complemented by a Data Act to foster data sharing among businesses, and between business and governments.