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A European Strategy for Data

The European Commission laid down a strategic pathway to leverage data in the best possible way for the sake of the European citizens and the Digital Single Market. The Data Strategy and the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence are the first pillars of the new digital strategy of the Commission.

The European Commission laid down a strategic pathway to leverage data in the best possible way for the sake of the European citizens and the Digital Single Market. The Data Strategy and the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence are the first pillars of the new digital strategy of the Commission.

In fact, the new European data governance strategy foresees a situation where the EU will become a player in the monetization of European citizen’s personal data with the full consent of those citizens that have no objection to providing that data to organizations. That said, close to 500 million people in Europe could become a data source for governments, public bodies and private companies, effectively creating the biggest data marketplace in the world.

The first initiative is called the Trusts Project which is due to be in place by 2022. This involves the creation of a European-wide pool of personal and non-personal data that will be accessible by businesses and technology companies through a system of trusts. While they will not be able to move that data, businesses will be able to use it, although terms of usage and what they will have to offer in exchange have not yet been decided.

The EU data market trust would both create a level of anonymity for the individual and a means by which an individual would be paid for their data. This trust would hamper the capabilities of third parties to re-identify and sell data that would have otherwise been personally identifiable.

Citizens should be empowered to make better decisions based on insights gleaned from non-personal data. And that data should be available to all – whether public or private, big or small, start-up or giant. This will help society to get the most out of innovation and competition and ensure that everyone benefits from a digital dividend. This digital Europe should reflect the best of Europe - open, fair, diverse, democratic, and confident.

The EU can become a leading role model for a society empowered by data to make better decisions – in business and the public sector. To fulfil this ambition, the EU can build on a strong legal framework – in terms of data protection, fundamental rights, safety and cyber-security – and its internal market with competitive companies of all sizes and varied industrial base. If the EU is to acquire a leading role in the data economy, it has to act now and tackle, in a concerted manner, issues ranging from connectivity to processing and storage of data, computing power and cybersecurity. Moreover, it will have to improve its governance structures for handling data and to increase its pools of quality data available for use and re-use.

Ultimately, Europe aims to capture the benefits of better use of data, including greater productivity and competitive markets, but also improvements in health and well-being, environment, transparent governance and convenient public services. The measures laid out in this paper contribute to a comprehensive approach to the data economy that aim to increase the use of, and demand for, data and data-enabled products and services throughout the Single Market.

This European Data Strategy creates the vision of a European data space which adheres to rules that are directly derived from fundamental European values. It envisages the "flow of data within the EU and across sectors" and is based on the fair principles when it comes to the access, management, and use of data. The EU will become an attractive, secure and dynamic data economy by setting clear and fair rules on access and re-use of data, investing in next generation standards, tools and infrastructures to store and process data, joining forces in European cloud capacity, pooling European data in key sectors, with EU-wide common and interoperable data spaces and giving users rights, tools and skills to stay in full control of their data.

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