EC Kick-starts PSI Directive Review
The European Commission (EC) published its ‘evaluation roadmap/inception Impact Assessment‘ [PDF] for the review of the Directive on the re-use of public sector information (the ‘PSI Directive’ [2003/98/EU]). This marks the starts of the review process, which will run into 2018. The initiative falls under the responsibility of the ‘Data Policy and Innovation’ Unit (G.1), under the leadership of Yvo Volman, in the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CNECT).
The EC’s effort fits into its Digital Single Market Strategy, as it announced in its May 2017 mid-term review that it would “prepare [in Spring 2018] an initiative on accessibility and re-use of public and publicly funded data and further explore the issue of privately held data which are of public interest”.
Those who are interested in the subject can now speak up their mind, as the EC launched a public consultation on the PSI Directive – deadline: 12 December, 2017. You can also give feedback on this ‘evaluation roadmap/inception Impact Assessment’ until 16 October, 2017. [updated following the announcement of the consultation]
The PSI Directive: The EC’s Concerns & Ambitions
The PSI Directive was already amended in 2013 (2013/37/EU), and the deadline for Member States to incorporate these latest changes in their national legislation, was just over two years ago in June 2015. C4C signatory Centrum Cyfrowe recently made an assessment of the Polish implementation of the PSI Directive in their September 2017 research report titled ‘Reuse of Public Sector Information Act — One Year After Coming into Effect’. Their conclusion was that “public sector information (…) gains real value only on the reuse stage“.
With this review the EC wants to assess “the extent of the increase in data re-use, the effects of the principles applied to charging and licensing, the re-use of documents and the interaction between data protection rules as well as interplay with the Database Directive”. The Database Directive is currently also being reviewed (remember the public consultation that ran until 30 august).
The EC aims to increase the quantity of PSI released as open data and facilitate its re-use in a digital environment. However, currently the EC is worried that “a number of obstacles to wide public sector information re-use still persist”. The document explains that public sector bodies can generate a wealth of dynamic datasets today, but real-time access to this data it is still rare, and therefore “depriving re-users of a chance to tap into this pool of high-value datasets”. Another concerns that arises that “several public sector bodies also continue to set charges for re-use well above the sums needed to cover the costs related to their reproduction and dissemination”. They also notice that privatisation of pubic sector holds the risk of locking-up data with entities that are not covered by the PSI Directive. Furthermore, the EC points out that “some types of valuable publicly-funded data, such as research data, are so far not covered by EU-level legislative rules”.
To remedy these concerns the EC “will investigate various policy options, including a possible regulatory intervention (e.g. amendment of the existing Directive, alignment of specific provisions in the INSPIRE [Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community] and PAEI [Eco-innovation Action Plan] Directives), soft law measures (e.g. such as the Commission Notice 2014/C 240/01 ‘Guidelines on recommended standard licences, datasets and charging for the re-use of documents’) as well as a combination of the two”.
The option of regulatory intervention could enable the EC to extend the scope of the Directive to:
- “allow for the re-use of data held by public sector bodies (e.g. public utility companies) currently excluded from the scope of the PSI Directive, due to the commercial or industrial nature of their activities”;
- “allow for the re-use of data held by private entities entrusted with fulfilling public sector tasks on the basis of concession (delegation) of public service contracts”:
- “allow for the re-use of data held by educational and research establishments, in particular aiming at a wider re-use of research data”;
- “enhancing access to and re-use of dynamic public data”;
- “lowering the charges for the re-use and promoting legal interoperability of licences”; and,
- “provide a clarification on the interplay between the PSI and the Database, INSPIRE and PAEI Directives”.
In terms of economic impact, the EC hopes that lowering market entry barriers and increasing the supply of machine-readable data will benefit SMEs and start-ups. A 2014 report from demosEuropa and the Warsaw Institute of Economic Studies (WISE) estimated that increased competition stimulated by opening PSI could surpass 10 billion EUR by 2020. The EC also points to the 2015 European Data Portal Study, which forecasted that the market size of Open Data would reach a value of 75.7 billion EUR in 2020.
In terms of social impact, the EC looks at things like job growth, aiming for an increase in employment within the data-intensive economic sectors, improving government accountability and increases the trust of citizens in their institutions, etc.
This subject is also important to libraries and cultural heritage institutions, as since 2013 content held by museums, libraries and archives falls within the scope of the Directive. In this context, ‘The Partnership Copyright & Society’ (SA&S), a C4C signatory, is holding an info-session (in Dutch) on the re-use of PSI on 10 October in Brussels.