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Brussels, 22 December 2006

Commission takes 5 countries to Court of Justice for failure on EU rules to re-use public information – a resource worth up to €48 billion

The European Commission is taking five Member States to the European Court of Justice for a failing to put into practice the Directive on the re-use of public sector information (PSI). The re-use of PSI has enormous economic potential as it represents a raw material for new added value services and products worth from €10-48 billion in the EU alone.

"Public sector information is a tremendous resource for Europe's emerging digital content industry," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. "Failure to act now will stifle growth, will stifle jobs and will ultimately hurt this all too important sector for Europe. This is why we will not let proactive Member States and Europe suffer because of inaction by others."

Member States should have notified the Commission of measures to put into practice the PSI Directive by 1 July 2005. Up to now, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg have failed to do so. The Commission is taking action against these countries by referring them now to the European Court of Justice.

Public organisations produce, collect and store vast amounts of public sector information, ranging from financial and weather data to tourist and traffic information. The Directive on the re-use of PSI aims to make it simpler to create EU-wide information products and services that are based on public sector information, and to limit distortions of competition in the EU's information market (see IP/02/814).

New technologies are allowing new PSI-based services to emerge delivered in new ways such as to mobile platforms. A recent study by the UK's Office of Fair Trading found that more competition and openness in public sector information re-use could benefit the UK economy by around £1 billion (€1.5 billion) a year, while a recent benchmarking study estimated that the overall market size to be worth between €10-48 billion in the EU alone.

This last study concluded that the Directive is already levelling the playing field. Many public sector bodies and industry re-users see it as a good first step toward a more open environment. However, it also recognised that much needs to be done to fully realise this openness in practice.

With the court actions launched today, the Commission confirms its determination to ensure that the legal provisions for the re-use of public sector information are duly implemented across the EU.

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