The European Commission has followed the UK's lead in launching a wide-reaching open data initiative which it expects will generate €40bn a year, as a new Deloitte report published on Monday found that opening access to data could be key to the UK's growth efforts.
The EC's Open Data Strategy for Europe has been designed to open a potential goldmine of public sector information, and features three key pillars.
The EC will open up its own stores of data through a new portal, establish a "level playing field" for open data across Europe, and contribute €100m to research into improving data handling technologies.
Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes argued that it is only right that taxpayers should be given back the data they have already effectively paid for, so that those who want to can use it in new ways to create jobs and growth.
"The EC will be releasing its own data for free, so let's open up the rest of Europe's public sector," she added. "Let's deliver a single market for data-based products and services."
The EC is to back up its plans with an update to the 2003 Directive on the reuse of public sector information which will make it compulsory to provide data in machine readable formats, to include data from libraries, museums and archives, and to make it a rule that all public sector documents can be reused for any purpose.
The UK was singled out for praise by the EC for its efforts so far in opening up data, and the government has certainly kick-started several high-profile projects, including the Home Office's police.uk national crime map and the data.gov.uk site.
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