The EU unveiled new rules on data sharing on Wednesday, hoping to make Europe a hub of innovation like the United States and China. From automobiles to vaccines, access to industrial data is becoming crucial in the global economy and the EU fears that a lack of trust between member states could stifle growth. Brussels is also keen to protect European companies against the supremacy of the United States and China, global superpowers widely seen as dominating the digital economy in Europe.
The protection of personal data is also a major concern in Europe. The European Commission has made a series of proposals aimed at overcoming these obstacles and allowing the flow of data across borders, in order to help businesses be more competitive. “For data to flow, we need to have rules that will build trust”said Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market. These rules should make it easier for businesses and researchers to exchange data that is currently unused for reasons of privacy, confidentiality or intellectual property rights. Among other things, they will pave the way for reliable data sharing services to pool and organize data in a neutral way in order to increase trust and exchange.
The EU will not require non-European companies to keep their data in Europe, but will demand stronger legal safeguards for sensitive data and allow encryption. “You don’t have to share all the data. But if you do and the data is sensitive, you should be able to do it in a way that the data is safe and secure ”, said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the Commission. The two commissioners insisted that the measures were not protectionist, nor intended to penalize the United States and China, but that they only defined the conditions for processing trade and research data in Europe. “It will be very important for us, perhaps not for the other continents, but for us, to be fully compliant with WTO rules”, said Breton.