Brussels, 24 June 2010
Public sector information: Commission refers Poland to Court for incorrect implementation of EU rules
The European Commission has decided to refer Poland to the EU's Court of Justice over incorrect implementation of an EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information such as digital maps, meteorological, legal, traffic, financial, economic and other data. Such public sector information can be re-used in products and services like car navigation systems, weather forecasts and financial and insurance services, and is estimated to be worth at least €27 billion every year (according to a 2006 study undertaken for the Commission). The EU public sector information Directive, adopted in 2003, requires 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. The Commission asked Poland to take the necessary steps to comply with the Directive in June 2009. In the absence of adequate compliance, the Commission has decided to refer Poland to Court.
The Commission decided to take 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. Polish legislation does not include the general principles of the Directive (see IP/02/814) related to individuals' rights to re-use public sector information and the public sector bodies' corresponding obligations. In particular, the Polish legislation does not include provisions on charging for use of public sector information where necessary, on non-discrimination between users, on transparency about what information is available for re-use, on licensing conditions, on prohibition of exclusive arrangements (awarded by public organisations to companies for exploiting public sector information) or rules on processing of requests to re-use the information. As a result, the public sector and those who re-use its information do not know their rights and obligations, and cannot rely on them before national courts.
The Commission first asked Poland for information on how it was implementing the Directive in October 2008 (IP/08/1524), but was not satisfied with the reply. In June 2009, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion (second stage of the infringement procedure) inviting Poland to take the measures necessary to comply with the PSI Directive (IP/09/1011). In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission has decided to refer Poland to the Court.
European citizens rely on products and services based on the vast amounts of information produced, collected and shared by public sector bodies, such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts and financial and insurance services. But despite its economic value, estimated at €27 billion for the EU, the Commission concluded in its review of the PSI Directive published on 7 May 2009 that much of Europe's public sector information, from statistics to traffic information, is still not re-used. The re-use of public sector information brings governments closer to citizens. It can help create new jobs and boost the economy,
To better coordinate their activities in the area of PSI reuse, in November 2009 the Member States adopted the "Visby Declaration - Creating impact for an eUnion 2015" and endorsed a "Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment". In particular, this declaration called on EU countries to "to make data freely accessible in open machine-readable formats, for the benefit of entrepreneurship, research and transparency." In January 2010, the UK government launched a single online access point to government-held non-personal data (www.data.gov.uk). Other Member States are following the example by making regional and/or national public sector information on data catalogues public.
Commission's Public Sector Information Website: