Brussels, 26 June 2008
Information from the Public Sector now easier to re-use in all Member States. Easy enough? asks Commission in a new public consultation
Public bodies produce, collect and share vast amounts of information, such as meteorological, traffic and financial data, digital maps or tourist information. This valuable Public Sector Information can be the basis of new added value services, but it is often difficult for businesses and individuals to re-use it. The EU's Public Sector Information Directive of 2003 enhances the re-use of such information across the EU. Transposition of the Directive has now been completed in all 27 EU Member States, as the European Commission has now closed an infringement case against Belgium for non-transposition of the Directive. The Commission is currently evaluating the corresponding national laws in preparation of a review of the Public Sector Information Directive which is due by the end of 2008. It has launched a public consultation towards this aim, which is open until 31 July 2008.
"When using your car navigation system, you are enjoying the services built on public sector information. This is only one example out of thousands. Public sector information is a very important resource for Europe's digital industry," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "Now that the legislation is in place in all Member States, we need to ensure that it is working in practice."
Public sector information is an extraordinary resource for the EU's digital content industry. According to a survey made in 2006, the overall market size for public sector information in the EU is estimated at € 27 billion. The EU's Public Sector Information Directive aims to overcome market barriers such as unfair competitive advantage for those public organisations that themselves commercialise the information they generate over private companies through for example cumbersome licensing procedures and high charges. Exclusive arrangements awarded by public organisations to one company for exploiting public sector information are to be terminated by end of 2008, thus unlocking important information resources for many re-users. The Directive also obliges Member States to overcome lack of information on availability of public sector information and to clarify the conditions for its re-use. These measures are necessary to create a single market for information and provide European companies with a single set of rules.
All 27 EU Member States have now transposed the Directive in their national laws. Belgium announced that it had done so on 8 May 2008, following the judgement of the European Court of Justice of 13 December 2007 (C-2006/528).
The European Commission has recently published an online public consultation to gather information from stakeholders on the implementation, impact and scope of the Public Sector Information Directive. The consultation is open until 31 July 2008 and its results will feed into the review of the Directive.
The Public Sector Information Directive was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers in November 2003. It is aimed to offer means for public sector bodies to enhance the re-use of their information resources by setting up rules to deal with requests for re-use or availability of documents. Member States had 18 months (until 1 July 2005) to transpose the Directive into their national laws. The European Commission is monitoring the implementation of the Directive in the Member Sates. The closure of the Belgian case (started by the Commission on 12 October 2005 and submitted to the European Court of Justice on 12 December 2006 (IP/06/1891) paves the way for a more efficient application of these rules across the EU.
The Commission's public consultation document on the review of the Public Sector Information Directive can be found on:
Contributions to the public consultation can be sent to: