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IP/10/1213

Brussels, 30 September 2010

Digital Agenda: Commission welcomes compliance with EU public sector information rules by Sweden and Italy; ends legal action

The European Commission has welcomed the adoption of new rules by Italy and Sweden as a result of which they are now complying with their obligations under the EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information. The Commission has therefore closed the infringement proceedings that had been opened against Italy and Sweden. Data produced by the public sector, worth at least €27 billion every year in the EU according to a 2006 study, can be re-used in many products and services like car navigation systems, weather forecasts, travel information applications ("apps") that can be downloaded on smart phones and financial or insurance services. The EU's public sector information Directive, adopted in 2003, encourages Member States to ensure that such information is made available and that the public sector, and those who could be interested in using this data, are made aware of their rights and obligations. A public consultation on how best to improve the public sector information (PSI) Directive is currently underway (IP/10/1103).

Sweden

The Commission had sent a letter of formal notice to Sweden in 2008 (IP/08/1524) asking for more information about how the country implemented the EU Directive on the re-use of PSI into national law.

The new Swedish PSI law entered into force on 1 July 2010. It promotes the development of an information market by facilitating re-use of public information. Public authorities must now issue public data to individuals or private companies under conditions which do not restrict competition. In the light of the new law, the Commission is now satisfied that Sweden meets its obligations under the EU's public sector information Directive.

Italy

The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Italy in 2009 (IP/09/425) seeking information about the implementation of several provisions of the public sector information Directive. In particular, land ownership and mortgage data (which include land register information with details on the ownership, tenure, precise location and boundaries of each parcel of land, as well as the use of real estate as collateral to secure loans) was not available for re-use in Italy under the same terms as provided for other public sector data under the EU rules. The Commission was concerned that Italian law might not sufficiently reflect the scope and definition of re-use, procedural requirements for processing requests for re-use, specific conditions of re-use including available formats and charging, and non-discrimination.

Italy has now amended its PSI law and the changes entered into force on 10 July 2010. These changes in particular incorporate the general principle contained in Article 3 of the EU's public sector information Directive on the re-use of information held by public bodies and amend other provisions which previously restricted the scope of the re-use legislation on grounds of lack of ownership of the requested data by the relevant public sector body or of its nature (e.g. land ownership or statistical data). In the light of the new law, the Commission is now satisfied that Italy meets its obligations under the EU's public sector information Directive.

Background

Earlier this year the Commission took Poland to the Court of Justice because it has failed to implement the main provisions of the EU public sector information Directive into national law (IP/10/801). Polish legislation does not include the general principles of the Directive related to individuals' rights to re-use public sector information and the public sector bodies' corresponding obligations. The Commission's public consultation on how to improve the public sector information Directive runs until 30th November 2010. A revision of the PSI Directive is one of the key actions of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). The Digital Agenda highlighted that governments can stimulate content markets by making public sector information available on transparent, effective and non-discriminatory terms. This is an important source of potential growth of innovative on-line services.

On-line consultation on the review of the PSI Directive:

http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=psidirective2010

Commission's Public Sector Information Website:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/psi/

For more information on EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/10/457


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