The Commission has just put forward the proposal for the regulation on data governance with the main objective of fostering the availability of data and facilitating data sharing. This initiative marks a new wave of data related legislation, which follows up on the Regulation on non-personal data and GDPR. It constitutes one of the building blocks of the 2020 European strategy for data, which is designed to pave the way for the full-fledged EU data market.

The document draws inspiration from the FAIR data principles that affirm that data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable. As follows from the analysis in deliverable D6.2, the current framework for data sharing is a patchwork of various legislative instruments. The lack of coherence, consistency and certainty hinders data sharing across the EU. With the Data governance act, the Commission now seeks to stimulate data sharing and re-use by strengthening trust in data intermediaries and data exchange mechanisms.

The choice of the legal instrument – regulation – is not accidental since in contrast to directives it does not leave margin of implementation to the member states and thus contributes to a better coordination and homogeneity of EU data policies. Risks of divergent interpretations and implementations across the EU are eliminated or at least minimised.

Four areas for EU intervention are identified:

  • mechanisms stimulating the use of public sector data which is not open data
  • a certification framework for data intermediaries
  • measures facilitating data altruism
  • an EU-level structure ensuring the coordination of the horizontal data governance framework

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To bring trust to the functioning of data intermediaries, the certification framework will be put in place on a semi-compulsory basis. The monitoring of the activities of data intermediaries is foreseen by the competent authorities of the Member States upon notification. However, the efficiency of certification as a mechanism to bring trust is questionable. It does not seem that it was a considerable game changer under the GDPR or the EU Cybersecurity Act. It remains to be seen whether it will help to cultivate the culture of trust for data intermediaries or Data Altruism Organisations. The understanding of the concept of trust in this context is particularly relevant for our future work in the TRUSTS project which relies on trust as one of the key elements for stimulating data sharing and re-use.

The draft regulation provides for the creation of a European Data Innovation Board meant to ensure the exchange of information and best practices by Member States’ authorities on data altruism, data intermediaries and the use of public data that cannot be made available as open data.

The proposal also identifies certain technical and legal procedural requirements for making available the categories of data held by public bodies that are not open data.

The draft regulation will go through the ordinary legislative procedure and a number of amendments will be certainly tabled by the European Parliament and the Council.  Regardless of how the final legal act will look, it is obvious that the establishment of common rules and practices in the Member States relating to data governance is only a question of time and negotiations.


Author: Yuliya Miadzvetskaya, KU Leuven


Learn more about the Data Governance Act of the European Commission.