Our JURI draft opinion as response to the own-initiative report of the ITRE-committee, written by MEP Kumpula-Natri (S&D).
After writing, negotiating and adopting countless (legislative) own-initiative reports in the past months, the IMCO- and ITRE-committee decided that it is now their turn. While the former will write the seventh (!) AI-report, the latter does something more helpful: an own-initiative report (INI) with recommendations to the European Commission concerning the upcoming European Data Strategy. Being blocked in the Committee of Committee Chairs (CCC) for several months due to a clash of competences, the ITRE-committee finally got the 'green light' to write this INI in late October. Fully expecting this outcome, the S&D-Rapporteur from Finland had already a draft report in her draw and published it only a few days later. Since the European Commission plans to present its Data Governance Act in November 2020 and the Data Act in Q3 2021, the ITRE-rapporteur plans to adopt the INI in late February 2021, while going to plenary in March 2021.
The role of the JURI-committee
The Committee for Legal Affairs will participate at the INI-report as associated committee according to rule 57 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament. This means that our committee is responsible "for all aspects of data relating to civil and commercial law and intellectual property law, including trade secrets and evaluating the Intellectual Property Rights’ framework with a view to further enhance data access and use, civil law aspects related to access to and use of data such as for instance data ownership, contractual rights to data or liability, commercial law including contractual law issues related to business-to-business data sharing, elements falling under procedural law, jurisdictional issues related to data and ethical aspects." As JURI-rapporteur, MEP Voss will be invited to all ITRE-Shadows-meetings and thus, is able to bring forward all points of the JURI-committee in person.
Our draft opinion was presented in the JURI-committee on 16 November 2020. The deadline for tabling AMs is on 19 November, while the consideration of AMs takes place on 7 December. The vote in JURI is currently planned for January 2021.
Our main remarks
Having the highly emotional and solely ideological debates in mind that normally take place in the European Parliament as soon as a report involves "data", the ITRE draft report surprises with a rather balanced and technology-friendly approach. While it remains very vague in many areas, it nevertheless raises several important issues. Most importantly, it has an optimistic view on digitization as well as on the use of data and does not demonize it as S&D / Greens / GUE often do. In our opinion, Europe could benefit enormously by a better use of data and should - in line with the existing rules and values - do everything to remove the existing obstacles. The upcoming European Data Strategy of the European Commission should address in particular three issues that so far stopped businesses to share data: (1) no interoperability between sectors, (2) legal obstacles by IPR / competition law and (3) no monetization for the sharing of data or other concrete benefits for businesses like subsidies or tax breaks in case they decide to share something that belongs to them.
“If the EU wants to create a genuine data economy, it needs to improve the interoperability, establish legal clarity and introduce monetization schemes for businesses.”
In our JURI draft opinion, we are concentrating mainly on four issues: better regulation principles, data sharing, IPR and jurisdiction.
We demand a principle-based and innovation-friendly EU legal framework but at the same time urge the European Commission to perform an in-depth evaluation and mapping of the existing laws in order to eliminate any legal overlapping.
We believe that data sharing must remain voluntary but should be incentivized by subsidies and tax breaks. Changes to the competition law, industry-led common standards and adapted data protection rules are also necessary.
We argue that the promotion of data sharing needs to go hand in hand with the protection of IPR, privacy and trade secrets and conclude that the existing rules are to a large extent already fit for the digital age.
We point out that the transfer of data to non-European states and the application of foreign jurisdiction currently causes huge legal uncertainty for citizens and businesses.
Download the JURI draft opinion
If you want to read our piece in full, you can download it below. Please note, that all yellow highlighted sentences are not yet part of the draft opinion due to the reduced word count in draft opinions. However, we will table them as additional AMs on 19 November.