Free flow of non-personal data in the European Union - Related Opinions
The Internet of Things (IoT), thanks to its interconnectivity of persons and objects, offers a vast range of opportunities for individuals and businesses. These opportunities must be backed by a series of safeguards and controls so as to ensure introduction of the IoT is problem-free. With this opinion the EESC aims to promote awareness-raising and digital capacity-building initiatives and calls inter alia on the European institutions and EU Member States to ensure that security and privacy are protection by building appropriate regulatory frameworks that contain strict monitoring and control provisions.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal for a regulation and considers it to be an important first step towards promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services. The EESC believes that this proposal is particularly important because it constitutes the first attempt to regulate B2B relations in the area of e-commerce, and recommends that it be approved swiftly in order to plug a clear legislative gap.
A pro-active mindset in business is needed to open up to increasing flows of data and develop the ability to process big data. Flexible and more adaptable business models must be put in place in the context of the current transformation process.
The Commission should carry out a precise analysis of the state of play and of defensive attitudes to the free flow of data in the Member States in order to remove unjustified barriers by putting the right legal and technical provisions in place. Removing unjustified barriers to free flow of data should be an integral part of a Europe-wide industrial policy. Opening up of national markets should also be covered by the European Semester.
As a matter of principle, contractual freedom in the private sector should be respected. A general EU framework for standards is desirable but standards should in no way hamper innovation. Portability should be promoted.
The EESC appreciates the coherent and ambitious strategic vision in industrial policy being displayed in the Communication and its focus on four key issues: (1) technologies and platforms; (2) standards and reference architectures; (3) geographic cohesion, embodied in a network of regional Innovation Hubs; (4) skills at all levels.
The EESC supports the European Digital Single Market Strategy proposed by the Juncker Commission, which is an extension of existing digital strategies and programmes. Its intention is to end the fragmentation of European digital policy into 28 strategies and national digital markets and merge them within a European approach, so as to guarantee a leading position for the EU in the global digital economy, a privilege that has become the preserve of third countries.
The EESC is convinced that the European Union, which has at its disposal excellent skills and considerable experience in certain aspects of digital technology, can still catch up. With this in mind, the EESC strongly recommends developing multidisciplinary research poles and European synergies in the European Research Area, in spheres such as cloud computing, nano-electronics, the storage and processing of big data, appliances that can be consulted or controlled remotely (connected objects), and smart services.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's communication, which calls for the establishment in the European Union of a thriving data-driven economy and thus a digital economy using information technologies.
The EESC stresses that the broad dissemination of information technologies in all areas of society and the economy, culture and education will provide enormous development opportunities, but it is necessary to support IT-related research and development in the technical, economic and social sciences. The EESC regrets the substantial reduction in funding for the financing of digital infrastructure under the Connecting Europe Facility and strongly advocates drawing appropriate conclusions. A new investment plan presented by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in December 2014, aimed at mobilising at least EUR 315 billion in the form of additional public and private investment in key areas such as digital infrastructure, is in this context a welcome policy response.