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Irish Presidency reaches breakthrough agreement on re-use of Public Sector Information

10.04.2013, 11:05 GMT


Increasing the re-use of PSI will generate new businesses and jobs and provides consumers with more choice and more value for money

Irish Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, has welcomed the agreement reached under the Irish Presidency on the Re-use of Public Sector Information.  Public Sector Information refers to the wide variety of information held by Public bodies, ranging from demographic and economic data to historical documents or works of art. According to Minister Rabbitte, “information and data can provide competitive advantage in today’s knowledge economy. Improving the availability of Publicly-held information and data sets will facilitate the development of new and innovative services and products.

Minister Rabbitte: We set out to deliver an amended Directive that would remove barriers to a potentially important growth area, to encourage a re-use environment that stimulates economic activity and job creation.

"In my own department I have seen strong evidence of good public information reuse. For example, the Geological Survey collects seabed survey data under its INFOMAR programme which is then reused in marine habitat mapping or in telecoms cable-laying operations. Similarly, some of their geological data collected for mineral exploration is now reused in landscape planning applications."

Minister Rabbitte noted the results of a survey on the economic impact of public sector information conducted by the European Commission in 2011 (Vickery study). The survey estimated that the overall direct and indirect economic gains of PSI are in the region of €140bn throughout the EU. Increasing the re-use of PSI generates new businesses and jobs and provides consumers with more choice and more value for money.

The Minister also commented on the positive contribution that the new Directive would make towards the development of a digital single market. In particular, he highlighted the value of extending the scope of the Directive to include libraries, museums and archives. “Extending the terms of the Directive to include cultural establishments adds a valuable range of data to PSI reserves, and so contributes positively to the growth and employment agenda”, noted the Minister. "The agreement of this directive has been an Irish presidency priority given its likely contribution to our jobs and growth agenda."

The Minister also observed that the Directive's key commercial objectives would be further enhanced by a charging regime that emphasises free or marginal costs, with important protections included for public sector bodies that have an income-generating remit. The Minister also drew attention to the appeals mechanism allowed for under the terms of the new Directive, adding “Potential re-users of PSI will be re-assured by a Directive that not only encourages the public sector to engage equitably with the private sector, but includes within its provisions a means of redress by an impartial review body.

“We set out to deliver an amended Directive that would remove barriers to a potentially important growth area, to encourage a re-use environment that stimulates economic activity and job creation, to put forward a set of initiatives that would receive the support and confidence of all stakeholders and that balances the requirements of industry with those of the public sector. It was an ambitious piece of work but I believe we have achieved what we set out to do, the benefits of which will be evident for many years to come”, concluded the Minister.


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Enda Gallagher, Press Officer

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