A better understanding of our seas and oceans to boost competitiveness and growth
On the 8th September 2010 the European Commission published a communication titled:
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL MARINE KNOWLEDGE 2020 marine data and observation for smart and sustainable growth
Brussels, 8.9.2010, COM(2010) 461 final, SEC(2010) 999, SEC(2010) 998
Press release published 13th September 2010 titled: Marine Knowledge 2020: A better understanding of our seas and oceans to boost competitiveness and growth
The Communication together with the Impact Assessment and Executive Summary has also been published on the European Commission Maritime Forum.
Brussels, 8.9.2010, SEC(2010) 999 final
COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT European Marine Observation and Data Network IMPACT ASSESSMENT - Executive Summary
COM(2010) 461, SEC(2010) 998
Brussels, 8.9.2010, SEC(2010) 998 final
COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT European Marine Observation and Data Network - IMPACT ASSESSMENT
COM(2010) 461, SEC(2010) 999, Pages: 74
The Communication states:
“Developing existing EU instruments
Member States already collect much data and in some cases are legally obliged to do so. Furthermore various EU instruments and actions endeavour to further the availability of a coherent set of data and observations within the EU.
These actions include both obligations and enabling measures. The distinction between the two is not always clear-cut but in general obligations are those where EU legislation obliges Member States to collect, assemble or grant access to data and enabling measures are those where the EU provides some support.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive, obliges Member States to " establish and implement coordinated monitoring programmes for the ongoing assessment of the environmental status of their marine waters ." Assembling sea-basin and pan-European-sea pictures requires collaboration across borders and across disciplines. Experience so far demonstrates that the sharing of data across sectors and across Member States does not take place uniformly, adequately, efficiently or rapidly. Unless the European Union takes or facilitates actions in this field it is unlikely to happen.
The INSPIRE Directive obliges Member States to adopt measures for the sharing of data sets and services between public authorities for the purposes of public tasks and the Environmental Information Directive requires them to release the data when asked. The Directive on the re-use of public sector information facilitates the re-use of public data by establishing a common legislative framework regulating how public sector bodies should make their information available for re-use in order to remove barriers such as discriminatory practices, monopoly markets and a lack of transparency.
These Directives provide the necessary legal foundations for a better use of marine data and, in the case of INSPIRE, for common standards. But they are not in themselves sufficient. They do not necessarily apply to those bodies not exercising public authority that hold much marine data - for instance scientific and academic institutions - and they do not override intellectual property rights. They do not deal with near-real time observations or historic archives of data.
In a review of the Public Sector Information Directive, Re-users in the geographical and meteorological sectors signalled high prices, restrictive licensing conditions and discrimination as barriers to fully unlock the potential of PSI re-use. Access to foreground data from EU Framework Programme marine research projects is only mandatory for Community Institutions and Bodies who intend to use the data for developing, implementing and monitoring environmental policies.
10] Directive 2008/56/EC
 Directive 2007/2/EC establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community.
 Directive 2003/4/EC
 Directive 2003/98/EC
 Re-use of Public Sector Information – Review of Directive 2003/98/EC, Brussels, 7.5.2009, COM(2009) 212 final”
The Executive Summary of the Impact Assessment on pages 4 and 5 also refers to the European Union Directive 2003/98/EC and states:
“1.7. Efforts to resolve the situation
Legislative measures have been adopted by the EU that oblige administrations to make their data more available. Measures such as the INSPIRE Directive7, the Environmental Information Directive8, and the Public Sector Information Directive9 introduce obligations for public authorities.
7 Directive 2007/2/EC establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community.
The Impact Assessment refers to public sector information on pages 10 to 15, pages 24, 44, 50 and 67. The following extracts relate to the European Union Directive 2003/98/EC.
These barriers to access and use of marine data mean that a public or private body cannot deliver a product or service that is based on data, for instance an assessment of fish stocks in a particular area, unless it has itself collected the data or enjoys a strong relationship with the organisation that did. This reduces the number of bodies that are potentially able to deliver the product or service. A 2009 review of the Public Sector Information Directive17 found that re-users in the geographical and meteorological sectors complained of high prices, restrictive licensing conditions and discrimination from data holders in the public sector who themselves provide added-value services from these data.”
By their nature marine data already fulfil one necessary condition of a public good - consumption by one individual does not reduce availability of the good for consumption by others. It is therefore in the public interest that marine data produced with public money be as widely used as possible. Unused data are a lost opportunity and still require expensive maintenance, storage, cataloguing etc.
However whilst it is in an organisation's interest that everybody else facilitates access to data, it might not always be perceived as being in its own interest to make its own data available. This may be because it can earn an income from the data but, more often, it is because it can derive a competitive advantage through preferential access to the data when delivering products derived from these data. These products could be assessments, forecasts, charts, maps or scientific papers. This is described by the UK's Office of Fair Trading19
The integration of [both] unrefined and refined information operations within a Public Sector Information Holder also mean they have an incentive to favour their own refined information operations over their business customers that purchase unrefined information to develop their own refined information products.
In other cases organisations have no particular objection to making their data available but, at the same time, they have no particular incentive or mechanism to do so. What is required is an infrastructure to process available data on a sea-area or sea-basin scale. Individual organisations cannot do this on their own.
Thus the main drivers are incentives that favour the retention of data within organisations and a lack of incentives for them to release them.
19 The commercial use of public information (CUPI), December 2006, OFT861”
The EU's primary tools for promoting better discovery of data, freer access to data and fewer restrictions on use of data-use conditions are
- the INSPIRE Directive26 which obliges Member States to adopt measures for the sharing of data sets and services between its public authorities,
- the Environmental Information Directive27 which requires them to release the data when asked and
- the Public Sector Information Directive28 which facilitates the re-use of public data buy by insisting that it is provided to all third parties under the same conditions.
These oblige Member States to adopt appropriate measures in order to achieve the desired objectives. A study29 clarified why these measures were not sufficient to remove the barriers to the use of marine data described in section 2.2.2. Broadly speaking the study concluded that Member States have correctly implemented the legislation at national level. However they do not necessarily apply to those bodies not exercising public authority that hold much marine data - for instance scientific and academic institutions - and they do not override intellectual property rights. They do not deal with near-real time observations, historic archives of data or cost-recovery charging. A review of the Public Sector Information Directive30 found that re-users in the geographical and meteorological sectors complained of high prices, restrictive licensing conditions and discrimination.
In other words there is not a problem of non-implementation of existing international and European rules in terms of access to and the use/re-use of marine environmental data, rather that those rules have a limited impact on intellectual property rights and thus in their ability to facilitate data flows.
26 Directive 2007/2/EC establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community.
29 Legal aspects of marine environmental data Framework Service Contract, No. FISH/2006/09 – LOT2, Final Report – October 2008
30 Re-use of Public Sector Information – Review of Directive 2003/98/EC, Brussels, 7.5.2009, COM(2009) 212 final”
4.4 Consistency with other EU policies and horizontal objectives
The objectives are consistent with other EU policies discussed in section 3.5.1 that have the broad aim of creating fair competition and non-discrimination between all potential users of public sector information.
Marginal cost charging (rather than cost-recovery) by Member States is encouraged in the preamble to the Public Sector Information Directive28
and Member States should encourage public sector bodies to make documents available at charges that do not exceed the marginal costs for reproducing and disseminating the documents
They are consistent with the Commission's position on "scientific information in the digital age: access, dissemination and preservation"44
Initiatives leading to wider access to and dissemination of scientific information are necessary, especially with regard to journal articles and research data produced on the basis of public funding.
They are consistent with other EU policies with a maritime dimension. The goal of the integrated maritime policy is to put into effect measures that contribute to the effectiveness of separate EU policies but that cannot be implemented through one policy alone. This is clearly reflected in the general objective which draws upon various Treaty articles. A better marine infrastructure will provide the underpinning data to manage and monitor the progress of the Common Fisheries Policy towards an ecosystem approach.
44 Brussels, 14.2.2007 COM(2007) 56 final”
Page last Updated: 16th November 2010