The European Commission plans to create a single European market for data, hoping that pooling the region’s deep industrial expertise could help build technology powerhouses to catch up with Silicon Valley and state-backed Chinese heavyweights.
The plan is part of a raft of digital market reforms proposed by the EU executive on Monday that also include steps to rein in the data controlling powers of companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Having lagged the first wave of digital innovation, particularly in consumer markets such as social media, online shopping and smartphones, the EU is keen to make up lost ground and avoid its firms relying on data from U.S and Asian rivals.
It is hoping that tapping into the trove of industrial data held by companies such as Germany’s Siemens and France’s Alstom could push Europe to forefront of the next wave of innovation.
“We will create a single market for data in the EU and we want to trigger investments of 4-6 billion euros in EU data spaces and cloud infrastructures,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference.
Alongside the single European data market, the Commission plans to create smaller data markets centred on key industries.
It will come up with a final draft by the end of the year following feedback from interested parties.
The plan comes alongside moves by some EU countries to introduce digital taxes on major U.S. tech companies, steps condemned by Washington as tantamount to protectionism.
TOUGHER RULES COMING
Other elements in the Commission’s proposals include new rules covering cross-border data use, data interoperability and standards for manufacturing, climate change, the auto industry, healthcare, financial services, agriculture and energy.
One possibly controversial proposal calls for doing away with EU rules against anti-competitive data sharing.
There is also a goal for data centres to be climate neutral by 2030.
In response to complaints about the power wielded by large online platforms, the Commission is also considering introducing rules to stop these companies from unilaterally imposing conditions for access and use of data or benefiting from this in a disproportionate manner.
A discussion paper on artificial intelligence also aims to set up a framework to govern the use of a technology used by a growing number of companies, with the rules applying to high-risk sectors such as healthcare, transport and policing.
More onerous rules known as the digital services act, which could force tech giants to take on more responsibilities for their actions and content hosted on their platforms, are expected to be announced towards the end of the year.