On 30 November 2021, the EU Council and the EU Parliament reached an agreement on the EU Data Governance Act (DGA). The DGA promotes the availability of data and aims at building a trustworthy environment to facilitate its use for research and foster innovation with the EU. With this agreement the trilogue negotiations have been concluded, meaning that the final approval of the legal text by the European Parliament and the Council seems near. The DGA is the first step of the European data strategy, which aims to shape the EU's digital future.
In particular, the DGA aims to facilitate data sharing of open government data (i.e. public sector data), including health and environmental data, for the purpose of reusing it for research and innovation. It also fosters data sharing of individuals and companies for the common good.
To achieve this goal, the DGA introduces data intermediates, which will provide a secure environment for companies or individuals to share data without fear of its misuse or of losing their competitive advantage. Data intermediates need to be listed in a public register. The "data marketplaces" are not allowed to use those shared data for any other purpose and the data sharing services will be placed in a separate legal entity. They also need to ensure that access to their service is fair, transparent and non-discriminatory, also with regard to pricing, for both data holders and data users. This means that such data intermediaries will be neutral.
The DGA also establishes data altruism: individuals and companies will be able to make their data available for reuse for the common good, voluntarily and without financial reward. Altruistic organisations must be non-profit and operate independently. They also must comply with certain transparency requirements and will need to be registered and monitored in their Member States.
The recitals of the DGA emphasise the strong potential in the use of data made available voluntarily for purposes of general interest, such as healthcare, combating climate change, improving mobility, facilitating the establishment of official statistics or improving the provision of public services. Thus, the concept of data altruism will contribute to the emergence of data pools big enough to enable data analytics and machine learning, also across borders within the EU.
In the next step along the European data strategy path, the EU Commission will also propose a "Data Act" to encourage data sharing among businesses and between businesses and government.