Since the publication of the European Commission’s proposal for the review of the Directive on the Re-use of Public Sector Information (‘PSI Directive’), members of CEEP Sustainability Board have been actively addressing the issue, sharpening arguments for balancing the proposal on the table.
CEEP supports the European Commission’s overall objective to set a European regulatory framework that fosters the development of the European data economy. Digitalisation is taking place in any case and, already today, deeply impacts the daily life of European citizens and businesses. Therefore, it also modifies the expectations and needs expressed towards public services in the broader meaning. Public services’ enterprises in all sectors and local authorities are well-aware of this evolution and on a firm path towards digitalisation in all aspects of their activities, e.g. by developing digital procedures in e-procurement or through digital capacity-building to foster indiscriminate access to digital resources at every level of public services provision. However, their resources to support this development are scarce. In this context, CEEP pleads for the revision of the PSI Directive to become a true support tool for ongoing digitalisation, innovation and investments by public services’ enterprises and not to lead to legal uncertainty and a reduction of investments, harming the long-term provision and development of public services.
With around 8 months to go until the European elections in May 2019, the work at the European Parliament on the PSI Directive is moving very fast. MEP Stylikiotis (GR, GUE), rapporteur of the ITRE committee (Industry, Research and Energy) of the European Parliament, has prepared a first draft report, which is available here. The IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection), CULT (Culture and Education), LIBE (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs) and JURI (Legal Affairs) committees are being consulted for opinion and are all expected to finish their work by late November.
On the Council side, Margarete Schramböck, Austrian Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs, confirmed during a hearing with the European Parliament ITRE Committee that the Austrian Presidency intends to move forward intensively on the topic.
Together with a delegation of VÖWG (Austrian Association of Public Services and Public Enterprises, from CEEP Austria), CEEP has met in the past few days with MEPs working on the file, making sure that the interest of providers of public services and of SGIs are sufficiently taken into account. Exchanging and discussing with representatives involved in the drafting process of the EP positions from all political groups, CEEP highlighted the key concerns and proposals of SGI providers across the EU.
Building up on the key messages identified in June 2018, CEEP has finalised in September its set of amendments to the initial proposal. Addressing the main issues highlighted by our members, the proposed amendments touch upon the issue of the list of high-value data-sets to be made available for free (and the Commission’s plan to propose a delegated act to address this topic, bypassing transparent and democratic process), the compensation of costs (for public sector bodies and public undertakings to pay back their investment in digital tools), the scope of the proposed re-cast of the directive and the importance of balancing the proposal with the already-existing sectoral approaches (such as the provision of the ITS Directive for the transport sector).
The upcoming months will therefore be of prime importance for setting a framework for the digitalization of public services and SGIs in the EU. Balancing rights and obligations, for all economic actors, and proposing a level-playing field for all actors should remain the key priority for the continuation of the EU social-market economy in the digital age.