The European Commission presents its Open Data Strategy for Europe

The Commission has launched an Open Data Strategy for Europe in which it is proposed to Europe’s public administrations to open their data to re-use them and to this aim, the Commission will lead by example, opening its vaults of information to the public for free through a new data portal. In addition, a level playing field for open data across the EU will be established and the new measures will be backed by the €100 million which will be granted in 2011-2013 to fund research into improved data-handling technologies.

The Open Data Strategy for Europe launched by the Commission intends to open Europe's public administrations data because they are sitting on a goldmine of unrealised economic potential. Thanks to this strategy which will boost the EU as the global leader in the re-use of public sector information, it is expected to deliver a €40 billion boost to the EU's economy each year. Open Data is general information that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - either free or at marginal cost.

The Commission proposes to update the 2003 Directive on the re-use of public sector information by making Commission's own data public through a new "data portal", for which the Commission has already agreed the contract, a contract which was tendered in July 2011. This portal is currently in ‘beta version’ (development and testing phase) with an expected launch in spring 2012. In time this will serve as a single-access point for re-usable data from all EU institutions, bodies and agencies and national authorities.

Furthermore, the Directive on the re-use of public sector information will be updated by making it a general rule that all documents made accessible by public sector bodies can be re-used for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, unless protected by third party copyright; establishing the principle that public bodies should not be allowed to charge more than costs triggered by the individual request for data (marginal costs). In practice this means most data will be offered for free or virtually for free, unless duly justified; making it compulsory to provide data in commonly-used, machine-readable formats, to ensure data can be effectively re-used; introducing regulatory oversight to enforce these principles; and massively expanding the reach of the Directive to include libraries, museums and archives for the first time; the existing 2003 rules will apply to data from such institutions.