Things are changing in the data landscape in Europe

Are you keeping pace with these important changes?

The EU wants to become a leading role model for a society empowered by data to make better decisions – for individuals, in business and the public sector. It intends to be a major actor in the new Data Economy, holding its own against other world powers.

The EU is committing to build a supportive environment in Europe from a regulatory and legal perspective. It will participate alongside Member States and private enterprise to build next generation technology and infrastructure solutions such as Cloud at the Edge Computing, Quantum Computing and of course Blockchain.

– European Strategy for Data, A Meeco review of the European Strategy for Data Communication from the European Commission on February 19th, 2020.

Europe will continue to place the individual citizen at the centre of the data equation, by promoting a human-centric approach to personal data management.

This document has been written to give the reader a snapshot of the new European Union (EU) Strategy for Data published as an EU communication on February 19th, 2020. In this document the authors express their opinion by way of commentary on the topic of personal data management and analysis of the strategy that the EU will adopt.

Meeco’s review points the reader to some of the most important elements of the EU’s position on various data issues, as well as the key elements of its strategy. We have taken care to include all direct excerpts between quotation marks and to reference them clearly back to the original communication document, by way of footnotes and demonstrated through relevant case studies.

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Why has the EU formulated its Strategy for Data for the next 5 years?

The production of data is literally exploding, with volumes growing massively from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes forecast in 2025.

Much of this growth will be driven by the Internet of Things but not solely, as individuals, businesses and organisations fully understand the true potential of data-usage.

In promoting more effective data usage, the EU believes that we can solve social and environmental issues for example and in doing so make for a more prosperous and sustainable society.


“Data is the lifeblood of economic development”

– page 14 European Strategy for Data

€ 4 – 6 Billion to be invested in total in 9 common European data spaces and a European federation of Cloud infrastructure and services. In addition, the strategy calls out the need for personal data spaces that are ethical, compliant and human-centric.

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Industrial (manufacturing) data space, to support the competitiveness and performance of EU industry and to capture the potential value of non-personal data in manufacturing.

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Green Deal data space, to use the major potential of data in support of the Green Deal priority actions on climate change, circular economy, zero-pollution, biodiversity, deforestation and compliance assurance.

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Mobility data space, to position Europe at the forefront of the development of an intelligent transport system and to facilitate access, pooling and sharing of data from existing and future transport and mobility databases.

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Health data space, which is essential for advances in preventing, detecting and curing diseases, as well as improvements in the accessibility, effectiveness and sustainability of the healthcare systems.

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Financial data space, to stimulate enhanced data sharing, innovation, market transparency and sustainable finance, as well as access to finance for European businesses and a more integrated market.

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Energy data space, to promote availability and cross-sector sharing of data, in a manner that facilitates innovative solutions and decarbonisation of the energy system.

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Agriculture data space, to drive sustainable and competitive agricultural performance, by processing and analysing data that helps a tailored and precise approach to production at the farm level.

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Public Administration data space, to boost transparency & accountability in public spending, fight corruption and support law enforcement needs and enable innovative ‘gov tech’, ‘reg tech’ and ‘legal tech’ applications.

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Skills data space, to reduce the skills mismatches between the education & training system and labour market needs, with a strong link to the EU’s digital skill enhancement programs and investments.

Personal data space, to promote and support a human-centric approach to personal data management across all actors and sectors in full compliance with GDPR.

Case Studies

We have also taken the opportunity by way of Case Studies, to highlight leading examples of personal data management, and how their approach to personal data management fits in with the European strategy for data. The Case Studies comprise five key perspectives: Business, Legal, Technology, Barriers and Catalysts. Through this lens we have addressed the commercial opportunities enabled through new technologies designed to meet regulatory compliance. We also explore the barriers that exist to build scale, together with the strategies that can accelerate adoption.


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Building Trust and the API-of-Me
– featuring Meeco

Human-centric personal data solutions allow individuals to derive more benefit from the personal data that they exchange with the people and organisations they trust. For enterprise and organisations, they bring better compliance with personal data rights and regulations, new business model opportunities and improved operating efficiencies. Everyone wins!

Still, barriers to human-centric data solutions exist such as embedded data practices and business models, despite hefty fines and flat growth. These can be broken down in future by catalysts such as greater investment in European alternatives to existing social and surveillance economy platforms.

Financial Advice Nexia Wealth Connect 

– featuring Nexia International and Nexia Australia & New Zealand

Personal financial management requires a human-centric approach based on compliance, tax regulation and personal circumstance and information.  But accessing and reviewing the relevant data and information is both costly and time-consuming. In wealth advisory, use of personal data management products supporting secure financial collaboration between advisors and clients facilitates transaction readiness and significantly decreases time-to-value.

The upfront effort to collect relevant personal information on a personal data management platform can be a real barrier to sharing it with a wealth advisor, adversely impacting the quality of the advice. Giving Europeans easy, secure and timely access to machine-readable financial data (banks, brokers, insurers and government) and initiatives such as PSD2 and Open Banking are amongst catalysts that will help to increase adoption of this best practice.

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KBC Bank The Digital Safe
– featuring KBC Group and KBC Bank

The use of a Privacy-by-Design Digital Safe is a way in which enterprises can provision added-value services for their individual customers. In the case of a bank, this is akin to the extension of a traditional bank safe, in that it serves to store personal and valuable things (data, documents, personal information), it requires two sets of keys to open the safe and only the registered owner of the safe can access the contents. The Digital Safe serves as the foundation for building a whole portfolio of data-enabled services that generate great value for individual customers. It also serves to position the enterprise or organisation one step ahead of GDPR.

A common barrier to enterprise solutions for personal data management is that many business managers do not yet fully appreciate the business opportunities that personal data management offers. A catalyst that can serve to offset this barrier amongst others would be tax and financial incentives for European enterprises that adopt human-centric technologies and demonstrably contribute to the success of the EU Data Strategy

Verifiable Credentials
– featuring Worldwide Web Consortium and Decentralised Identity Foundation

People and businesses need to make claims about personal information and status or business information daily by using physical documents issued by trusted organisations, such as passports, audited tax returns, diplomas or marriage certificates. In a digital world this becomes much more complicated. The use of digital Verifiable Credentials and blockchain technology allows the individual or business to manage their credentials, once issued by a trusted source, on multiple occasions and with different 3rd parties. Two organisations that are actively driving the standards around Verifiable Credentials Decentralised Identity are the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF).

The single most important barrier to the development of Verified Credentials is the effort required to help individuals, enterprises and businesses understand blockchain and distributed technology. Catalysts that would help achieve more widespread adoption of Verifiable Credentials include a clear governance framework to clarify the roles of issuer, recipient and verifier, as well as standards for interoperability that help to read, use and revoke Verified Credentials.

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Data Interoperability and Reusability – featuring Kantara Initiative and MyData.org

Data is one of those rare commodities that can be used and re-used by multiple parties, across different sectors and concomitantly or at different times. But this means data needs to be interoperable and reusable. Two organisations that are offering Thought Leadership and promoting the governance and standards required in this domain are MyData.org and The Kantara Initiative.

A definite barrier to interoperability and reusability of personal data is that enterprises and organisations continue to believe that they own their clients’ personal data and therefore make no effort to render it interoperable and reusable. Catalysts that would help achieve more widespread adoption of Verifiable Credentials include a clear governance framework to clarify the roles of issuer, recipient and verifier, as well as standards for interoperability that help to read, use and revoke Verified Credentials.

Disruptive Business models
– featuring Meeco

There is a wide spectrum of potential data-enabled business models that could benefit from the European data strategy. At one end, the model predicated on monetisation of personal data by virtue of the transfer of control or data to a 3rd party. At the other end of the spectrum, a model predicated on collaboration between the individual data subject and 3rd parties creating an equitable share in the value generated. Market forces will ultimately determine which model if any prevails.

The barriers to such disruptive business models include first and foremost the slow rate of adoption of human-centric tools, allowing individuals to collaborate with enterprises and organisations. Beyond incentives for the offer and uptake of human-centric tools, a catalyst that can help promote new business models would be the reduction in reliance on current platforms that monetise data versus surfacing intent insight that rewards individual participation.

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Europe’s vision for data revolves around a single European data space

This derives from the fact that the cost of replication and reuse of data is incredibly low and hence it is a valuable resource that can significantly contribute to value creation.
In order to support better access to data, the EU envisions creating a single European data space in the form of a single market for data in Europe, in which European law and data regulations will fully prevail.
This will allow European data operators to emerge, who are able and willing to offer the human-centric tools that allow individuals to store and share their data, documents and personal information in a secure and private manner consistent with GDPR.
These data spaces will foster ecosystems creating new data-enabled products and services.
The better access to data and its more responsible usage will drive economic growth and a whole host of societal benefits for Europe and its citizens.

Europe’s advancement on a data-enable growth is dependent on clearing a number of hurdles

Despite all the federation and unity that still holds Europe together, there is a degree of fragmentation amongst Member States with regards to adapting their legal frameworks to the host of issues involved in data management in Europe.

There are 8 priority issues that will need to be solved by all Member States together if Europe is to leverage the size of its internal data market. These include:

  1. Availability of data
  2. Imbalances in market powers
  3. Data interoperability and data quality
  4. Data governance
  5. Data infrastructures and technologies
  6. Empowering individuals to exercise their rights
  7. Skills and data literacy
  8. Cybersecurity

Europe’s strategy is founded on a comprehensive set of policy measures and funding initiatives

The EU strategy for data is built on four pillars:

  1. A cross-sectoral governance framework for data access and use
  2. Enablers: investments in data and strengthening Europe’s capabilities and infrastructures for hosting, processing and using data, interoperability
  3. Competences: empowering individuals, investing in skills and in SMEs
  4. Common European data spaces in strategic sectors and domains of public interest

Amongst the various actions that support these four pillars, it is worthwhile highlighting the very considerable investment that will be dedicated to ensuring that Europe reaches sovereignty in the technology that is necessary to support data management and usage.

Europe wants to cooperate with other global actors on the data scene, but it will be on its own terms and according to its well-enshrined data regulations

The EU intends to reach beyond its borders in all matters pertaining to international data flows, in order to protect the rights of its citizens and the competitiveness of its enterprises. It also sees an opportunity to attract storage and processing of data from other countries and regions, based on its high standards in data regulation such as GDPR, as well as ongoing policy formulation.

One of Europe’s great strengths, but which may be seen as a constraint by others, is the degree to which it places the individual at the centre of the personal data equation

By any standards, Europe is a vast entity. In 2017 it had 27.5 million active enterprises, employing 150 million people. And the total population for the 28 Member States was close to 450 million inhabitants. There is a sense of the huge opportunity of a single European data market that works properly.

This document has been written to give the reader a snapshot of the new European Union (EU) Strategy for Data published as an EU communication on February 19th, 2020. In this document the authors express their opinion by way of commentary on the topic of personal data management and analysis of the strategy that the EU will adopt.

Meeco’s review points the reader to some of the most important elements of the EU’s position on various data issues, as well as the key elements of its strategy. We have taken care to include all direct excerpts between quotation marks and to reference them clearly back to the original communication document, by way of footnotes and demonstrated through relevant case studies.

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