Encouraging the availability of high value data.

SW – 02/2019

The European Commission presented a package of measures in April 2018 to improve the availability of data in the EU. In addition to the revision of Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information (PSI Directive), the package also includes a Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information, a Communication from the Commission ‘Towards a common European data space", and guidance on sharing private sector data in the European data economy as supporting documentation for this communication. The value of the European data economy in 2016 was €300 billion. Through proper legislative and policy guidance, this value could increase to €739 billion by 2020, reaching 4% of EU GDP.


The aim of the PSI Directive is to ensure that public sector data, which is already publicly available under national regulations, can also be re-used for commercial purposes.


The aim of the Commission’s revision is to extend the scope of the Directive and facilitate the re-use of public sector data. The Commission is of the opinion that the availability of high value data from publicly funded services that is free of charge is a key factor in accelerating European innovation in highly competitive areas which rely on access to large amounts of high-quality data, such as artificial intelligence. In addition, SMEs and start-ups could benefit by new markets opening up to them for the provision of data-based products and services.


The main revisions to the Directive are as follows:

Data in the utilities and transport sectors

The Directive is now to apply not only to public authorities, but also to public undertakings in the transport and utilities sectors. Public undertakings must follow the same principles as public bodies. The intention behind extending the Directive to include public undertakings is to extend the scope of the Directive, rather than extending the obligation to provide data.

Access to data

Public sector data, including data from public undertakings that is accessible under national laws, is to be made available digitally and free of charge. Access should be free; however, the recovery of marginal costs is permitted. Public sector bodies that need to generate revenue are exempt from this principle. They are allowed to charge a reasonable fee for their data.


Dynamic data, such as weather or traffic data, should be made available by public bodies in real time via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

High value datasets

High value datasets, that is, data whose re-use is associated with significant benefits for society, the environment or the economy, are to be made available free of charge via APIs and, where relevant, as a bulk download. A link of categories of high value datasets is found in the Annex of the proposed Directive and includes statistics.

Publicly-funded research data

Member States should support an open access policy when it comes to publicly funded research data, that is, establish a policy of free access to this data. Publicly funded research data should be made available for both commercial and non-commercial re-use, provided that it has already been made publicly available by researchers, research organisations or research funding organisations through an institutional or subject-based repository. However, legitimate commercial interests and intellectual property rights should continue to be taken into account.

Possible relevance to social security

The rules on high value datasets, in particular the statistics category, could be relevant to social insurance. Recital 58 of the compromise text states that demographic and economic indicators could be included in this category. This could possibly also include the statistical datasets of the umbrella associations of Germany’s social insurance system and their members. The Commission is empowered to adopt implementing acts stipulating specific high value datasets for the categories listed.


The regulations for the re-use of research data could also be of interest to the research institutes of the various insurance branches. ‘Research data’ is defined in the proposed Directive as ‘documents in a digital form, other than scientific publications, which are collected or produced in the course of scientific research activities and are used as evidence in the research process, or are commonly accepted in the research community as necessary to validate research findings and results.’

Agreement in European Parliament and Council

In January, the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the proposed revision of the Directive on the re-use of public sector information. The Directive still has to be formally adopted by both legislative bodies.


The Member States then have two years to transpose the Directive into national law.