OpenForum Europe Welcomes the Parliament’s Direction on the Free Flow of Data Directive

31 May 2018

Author: Astor Nummelin Carlberg

From the very start, OpenForum Europe (OFE) has been involved in the discussion on the Free Flow of Data directive. Our representatives took part in a Commission study concluded in September 2017, which had the objective to “support the European Commission with evidence and analysis for the EU Free Flow of Data Initiative (FFoD), as announced in the DSM”; and as a partner in this study, OFE organised three workshops focusing on SMEs, Member States (‘MS’), and Smart Industry.

With our mission as the vantage point, together with the learnings from this study as a prism, we see the free flow of data as instrumental for an open, innovative and competitive European digital single market. Open data markets create opportunities for European SMEs to compete cross-border, achieve efficiency gains for the private and public sectors, and speed up the adoption of new innovations and technologies.

We argue that the EU needs a directive that is ambitious in providing a legal framework which makes European data mobile by removing digital borders.

It is therefore encouraging to see the steps taken in European Parliament towards removing the barriers to free flow of data in the European Union.

The proposed compromise amendments negotiated by the Parliament rapporteur (Ms. Anna Maria Corazza Bildt) as well as the shadow rapporteurs offer improvements to the Commission’s proposal. The suggested changes clarify the relationship with the General Data Protection Regulation and state more clearly the public sector’s responsibilities in terms of data handling and public procurement.

In addition, more time is given to the development of a code of conduct. OFE welcomes this method of self-regulation in the fast-moving data economy, in order not to stifle innovation and portability. The co-legislators should strive to achieve the efficiency gains of a truly digital single market by avoiding duplication and by increasing competition.

At heart, the purpose of this proposed directive is to future-proof the single market. This can only be done if we concurrently ensure a common high level standard of privacy and support the free flow of data – both within and outside the EU. We need to liberate the flow of data, while safeguarding the trust of citizens, no matter where their data is stored or processed.

This file is moving fast through the legislative process. OFE hopes for broad support in the IMCO committee vote, and for a constructive and rapid trilogue process.