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Cross-sectoral data sharing key to competitive European data markets

Sitra’s working paper proposes 35 steps for implementing the European data strategy, highlighting the need to include personal data on the agenda.



The European Commission’s new data strategy aims to create a common European data space, that is, a single market for data, which will allow data to flow freely within the EU and across sectors for the benefit of businesses, researchers and public administrations.

Sitra’s working paper, created together with the A New Governance initiative, proposes 35 future-proof steps for policymakers and companies to take in the short and long term to make the vision outlined in the European data strategy work. The proposals, targeted at the European Commission, the EU’s member states, industry, those creating data sharing initiatives and the research field, are grouped into four main topics according to the strategy chapter in the data strategy:

  1. the management of the cross-sectoral availability and reuse of non-personal and personal data;
  2. the creation of an infrastructure for data markets;
  3. the empowerment of individuals and businesses through the reuse of data;
  4. the development of a complementary cross-sectoral personal data space.

“It is hard to make a clear-cut distinction between industrial (non-personal) and personal data. A good example is data collected by vehicles. Without including personal data in the data strategy, a significant amount of data is excluded from the data markets, and consequently cannot be exploited for innovation purposes,” notes Laura Halenius, Senior Lead on Sitra’s IHAN project.

A European single market for data enables innovation

Currently, there is not enough data available to promote innovation. To make data fully available to public entities and companies of all sizes, we propose actions such as developing common standards and best practices, providing investment, and building cloud services to ensure the creation of the necessary infrastructure for functioning data markets.

To promote cross-sectoral data sharing, we propose the creation of a governance body that would help to ensure the interoperability of different data spaces, a human-centric approach at all stages of decision-making, and close co-operation with the European standardisation bodies.

For businesses, non-personal and personal data sharing is key to creating new business models and innovative services. To overcome the lack of trust and skills that prevent individuals from sharing data, people need to be motivated by innovative services that add real value to their lives. We also propose the creation of a “fair data label” for trustworthy digital services.

“Better use and sharing of data is also crucial in the current Covid-19 crisis and its aftermath – it will enable governments and businesses to respond to future challenges more efficiently,” notes Markus Kalliola, Senior Lead on the IHAN Project at Sitra. “European companies need support and funding to renew their business models to respond to the changed operating environment.”

To unleash the full potential of Europe in the digital age, we recommend the co-ordinated development of data spaces. We also recommend adding a horizontal and cross-cutting personal data space to the data strategy alongside the sector-specific data spaces.

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