13 October 2020

On 13 October 2020, the EIF organised a debate on the European Data Strategy, in the light of the European Parliament report and the upcoming legislative proposals from the European Commission. The discussion, moderated by EIF Director General Maria Rosa Gibellini, was hosted by Miapetra Kumpula-Natri MEP and Rapporteur for the Data Strategy, and featured the following speakers:

- Malte Beyer-Katzenberger, Policy Officer, Unit G1 'Data policy and innovation', DG CONNECT European Commission
- Dr. Richard Benjamins, Chief AI & Data Strategist, Telefónica
- Adam Ocharski, Head of Business Intelligence, Santander Bank Polska
- Eline Chivot, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Data Innovation (as First Respondent)

The European Data Strategy

Miapetra Kumpula-Natri MEP opened the debate bringing to the attention the need to be ready for digitalisation and how the European data economy can and should benefit all players and the entire society. Data flows can improve the society at all levels through not only the right framework but also a functioning infrastructure and clear rules for future investments and common practices that must be based on core values and principles. This will nurture European economy and values, “which should not be dictated by a big company or a big country.”

According to the MEP, improving data handling as well as taking into consideration the importance of intermediaries would give Europe the basis to take a leading role in the decision-making process of this economy.
“The governance proposal together with the nine strategic data spaces will be both a technical and policy making exercise, but will be fundamental to define how the European data economy can be built.”

After underlining the importance of organising data and data flows, Malte Beyer-Katzenberger stressed how trust and fairness in the data economy are essential and how data institutions can be crucial to help organise trustworthily activities around data. He made clear that, in the governance proposal, the Commission will put a lot of emphasis on the new types of data intermediaries (e.g. market places, IT platforms) and will ensure the compliance with the rules to build a trustworthy and fair environment. This not only concerns the non-personal data economy, but also the personal data economy.

He concluded his intervention highlighting on the importance of data sharing and data sharing institutions and how the Commission would like them to be part of the future data sharing spaces or common European data spaces.

Dr. Richard Benjamins agreed on the importance of the European data strategy and data sharing industry.
He focussed on the four types of data sharing (B2B, B2G, G2B, G2G) and how the last two in particular fall under the scope of open data. What is missing, he argued, is an ecosystem supporting the sharing of these data at large scale: it is not only a matter of making the data flow and available, it is above all to make that data used in order to create an ecosystem.

He is very positive towards the European data strategy, but at the same time he shared his concern on the many open questions of the strategy which would need to be answered before the introduction of the data spaces: “A lot of things have to be defined, and it is not clear who will define them.”

Adam Ocharski focussed his intervention on the importance of data driven solutions and access to data in order to improve the security and the quality of a service, not only in the financial sector.
Data, under the customers’ agreement, can help determine the position and behaviour of a customer to be sure the bank can grant a loan; at the same time, data can also prevent phishing activities and make sure that the financial assets of a customer are safe.

Taking into account that many of the traditional businesses are going online and that, at the same time, there are a lot of new businesses derived from the digital revolution, Mr. Ocharski thinks it is crucial for all the sectors operating in the digital world to have access to the data and find more sophisticated ways to prevent potential threats. He showed his support to the European data strategy and underlined the importance of a cross sectorial approach and customer centricity.

Eline Chivot stated that clear guidance and governance about compliance is needed, and stressed the importance to encourage businesses to share and collect data through clear incentives, experimenting new methods and models that can, at the same time, help to improve the quality of data. The expertise of the decision makers also matters.

On interoperability, she put forward the idea of streamlining the adoption of common standards by all Member States, since pre-standardisation cooperation would be a good way to prevent politicised decisions that can potentially determine a new framework. For certain industries there is a lot of coordination already with codes of conduct, self-regulation frameworks and, according to Ms. Chivot, some consolidation of these tools would be a good starting point to build common standards.

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