The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for a Data Strategy that sets cross-sectoral data sharing as a priority and to improve the use, sharing, access and governance of data with legislative, sector-specific action. An ambitious Data Strategy can address the critical need to enhance EU data capabilities.
The EESC endorses the Commission's proposal for the overall design of EU data architecture to further enforce individuals' rights regarding the use of their data, the protection of and their control over their data, as well as their awareness. However, it calls on the Commission to deploy a clearer strategy to advance its data framework, as well as proposes further clarification of the Strategy's funding approach and recommends ways to close the skills gap.
The EESC is of the view that the development of data-driven platforms in Europe should reflect European values, including by focusing on individuals. The EESC believes that the current consumer-centric approach should extend to a "human-in-command" approach that integrates an ethical dimension with respect to the use of data.
Furthermore, the Committee considers the completion of the single market an essential priority for common data spaces to work. Given the sensitivity of the data shared, the EESC insists on the need to guarantee safeguards to individuals' data privacy through consent, control, sanction and oversight mechanisms, and to ensure that data will be anonymised (and cannot be de-anonymised).
The EESC recommends that the Commission define in the Strategy the option it recommends for the concept of data ownership. The ongoing legal debates currently create uncertainty for individuals to identify which demands they can raise.
The EESC advocates for stronger dialogue with civil society and recalls the need to provide small and medium enterprises with clearer guidance on data sharing mechanisms, as both aspects will be key to broad participation in data spaces. It also recommends the Commission to ensure that the legal framework enables equal access to data among all companies, large and small, and addresses the market power of dominant platforms.
The EESC insists on the urgent need to improve digital skills and literacy through education and training, including by building on the Digital Competence Framework and encouraging Member States to improve lifelong education for the skills that will be most in demand, at all levels of education. Last but not least, the EESC invites the Commission to clarify and strengthen the role of competent authorities, consumer organisations and independent bodies, which is relevant in the governance of sectoral initiatives and to ensure business compliance and user guidance, advice and training.