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Europe approves open data regulations

Accoridng to an article published on Research Africa, the EU has formally approved rules on open data, which will allow the re-use of public sector information including research results.

The official sign-off on the legislation came yesterday (13 June), when the European Parliament passed the proposal during its plenary session in Strasbourg. This followed an agreement by the Council of Ministers last week.

Approval of the new directive means private companies and individuals will be able to access existing data generated by public bodies, including research results and information from libraries, weather data and maps.

“We’re basically sitting on a goldmine,” said the commissioner for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes, who believes the economic benefits from allowing data re-use could equate to “tens of billions of euros”.

However, the commissioner was keen to emphasise the benefits will not be purely economc. “This is an amazing raw material for innovation,” said Kroes. Having more data openly available will help to address societal challenges, as well as improving the transparency of public institutions and enhance evidence-based policymaking, according to the Commission.

Kroes proposed the open data directive in December 2011, with the aim of benefiting academics and entrepreneurs, amongst other data users.

The majority of data will be available for free, or for a minimal charge at most. This will be particularly useful to small and medium-sized enterprises which lack the resources to collect the data themselves, says the European Parliament.

Member states will now be required to transpose the rules into national laws, within 24 months from the Directive’s date of entry into force.

Read more on Research Africa

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