Last week the European Committee of the Regions adopted with unanimity their member Cllr Kieran McCarthy’s opinion on the European Commission’s Communication “Building a European Data Economy”.
The Data Economy is an important element of the Digital Single Market (DSM). It involves generation, collection, storage, processing, distribution, analysis, elaboration, delivery and exploitation of data enabled by digital technologies. This data enables market players to create applications with a great potential to improve daily life. Cllr McCarthy focussed on the collation of machine read data as opposed to personal data. Local and regional authorities are keys in developing DSM via their roles in providing digital services, which represent the engine of economic growth at local and regional level offering opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Cllr McCarthy describes; “local and regional authorities have a key role in creating a database of public information on aspects such as transport movement, climate change, energy demand, providing data security, developing necessary digital and entrepreneurial skills, and securing and facilitating funding for broadband networks. I call on the European Commission to support local and regional authorities in their financing activities by continuing to authorise priority deployment of the European Structural and Investment Funds towards digital infrastructure in all European cities and regions including small cities and regions such as Cork and similar size”.
In the opinion, Cllr. McCarthy proposed four lines of action to build a European data economy: Firstly, that a clear and adapted policy and legal framework be adopted for the data economy, removing remaining barriers and risks to the movement of data and addressing legal uncertainties created by new data technologies. Secondly that potential virtual criminality be combated against through effective and coherent preventative cybercrime strategies, which includes training for local and regional authorities. Thirdly that interoperability be improved – to make existing clouds or clouds under development at national, regional and possibly local level interconnectable and interoperable or intertransferable, exploring the potential for standardisation.
Representatives of the European Commission welcomed Cllr McCarthy’s opinion as a clear and important message, that local and regional authorities need and want to play a key role in the sustainable roll-out of the EU’s Digital Agenda and the building of the EU data economy.
The European Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly for democratically elected local and regional politicians and public representatives, has a consultative role in EU policymaking.