European Commission consultation on data / closes 25 June 2021

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Robbie Morrison

Jun 7, 2021, 10:51:48 AM (6 days ago) Jun 7
to openmod list
Hello all

The European Commission is currently consulting on a proposed Data Act:

The consultation also covers a review of the 1996 database directive.  That directive, subsequently transposed into individual national law, is arguably the most problematic statute for energy analysts within Europe who work with public sector information and/or energy sector information under statutory reporting.

Just a heads up at this stage. I have yet work through the background documentation. The deadline for written feedback is midnight Friday 25 June 2021.

I intend to draft a written submission and then seek support from individuals within this community via this mailing list.  Noting too that the Open Energy Modelling Initiative collectively decided early on not to lend its name to policy positions on individual legislation or on specific matters of public policy more generally.  If on offer, I would also consider traveling to Brussels to give an account of the written submission in person.

For orientation, here is an earlier submission to the European Commission:

Feel free to respond here or to email me off‑list.

with best wishes, Robbie

Robbie Morrison
Address: Schillerstrasse 85, 10627 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49.30.612-87617

Robbie Morrison

Jun 10, 2021, 11:23:01 AM (3 days ago) Jun 10

Hello all

Regarding the preliminary consultation (officially "inception feedback") on the proposed Data Act by the European Commission. Submissions close midnight Friday 25 June 2021.

By my reading, this act and related measures (such as the proposed ePrivacy Directive) have two aims:

  • to tighten up how private data (including non‑personal data) is communicated and stored and to increase the sanctions for misuse
  • to improve the flow of information between businesses (B2B) and also from business to government (B2G) for public‑interest reasons (the coronavirus pandemic being a case in point for both activities)

So that is broadly the backdrop.

This email is to indicate where I intend to head on a written submission, also with (hopefully) the support of willing openmod participants as signatories. And these are the key points so far:


  • the submitters collectively class as an "informal organization" for the purposes of this submission process
  • and while we all contribute to the Open Energy Modelling Initiative, this submission cannot be made in the name of the Open Energy Modelling Initiative as a matter of community policy


  • our domain is public‑interest energy system analysis with emphasis on open source development, open data, and scientific cooperation
  • analysis from trusted and reliable sources is critically important for a rapid and complete decarbonization and that analysis is, in turn, critically dependent on good quality usable and reusable data
  • our community is moving from a data paradigm of local databases and schemas to one of semantic triples with, optionally, dataset payloads: a shift that necessitates domain‑wide agreement on structured semantics (including formal ontologies), metadata usage, and collection protocols
  • that paradigm shift is also completely contingent on suitable and explicit open licensing (more on license choice later)
  • some in our community have started to experiment with both semantic web architectures and domain‑specific coherent and semi‑intelligent "data systems"
  • community curation is important (indeed some of the primary information under statutory reporting is of surprisingly poor quality)
  • we also recognize the emerging role of smart contracts, brokered data services (Icebreaker One Open Energy portal, for instance), smart energy systems (LF Energy project), and IoT architectures more generally, but these are only of peripheral interest to us
  • our community, thus far at least, only deals with non‑personal information that has been or can be legitimately published: hence issues of personal and commercial privacy are not material
  • our community has a six year track record of advocating for open data within the energy systems domain and conservatively numbers 400 participants with the majority located in Europe
  • we [will] provide a detailed account of information held and/or reported by the ENTSO‑E transmission system umbrella organization and the EEX market operator because deficiencies we collectively experience encapsulate many of the issues we would like to see traversed in a new Data Act
  • we [will] provide some good practice examples as well (for instance, from the European Commission Joint Research Centre)
  • our methods and models have recently started to be used to for energy systems analysis in less developed countries and regions: this effectively represents a form of technology transfer, albeit largely unnoticed

Our calls

  • our community strongly prefers Creative Commons CC‑BY‑4.0 licenses, CC0‑1.0 waivers, or something inbound compatible
  • that all information provided under statutory reporting be explicitly accessible and open licensed (mandatory electricity market exchange reporting appears to be implemented so as to intentionally restrict accessibility)
  • that closed public‑interest databases (such as the ENTSO‑E sponsored Pan European Market Modelling Database) be made public and explicitly open licensed
  • that business‑to‑government (B2G) information, suitably aggregated and anonymized, would substantially improve the accuracy of our analysis
  • further to the above, typical construction and operations cost information would greatly assist
  • that the Commission provide legal opinions on the interoperability of the growing number of national level data licenses within the European Union (including dl‑de/by‑2.0 and Licence Ouverte and also the United Kingdom OGL‑UK‑3.0, noting that the UK National Grid continues to supply data to the ENTSO‑E Transparency Platform post Brexit) with regard to the CC‑BY‑4.0 license — or alternatively legislate to prevent the proliferation of legally‑encumbered data silos due to licensing incompatibilities
  • we believe 96/9/EC database protection has outlived any usefulness and should be repealed — indeed, database protection provides only legal uncertainty, is debilitating for risk‑averse institutions and researchers but not others, and is routinely ignored by data portals operating from the United States in any case
  • we believe that section 2.11 definition of "re‑use" in the 2019/1024 Open Data Directive should be revised to provide a definition consistent with the remainder of that recent statute, including recital 16

Not relevant to our community

  • the bulk of proposed measures are aimed at improving business‑to‑business (B2B) flows while simultaneously protecting private communications
  • and measures to promote fairness in regards access to B2B information and the development of digital markets (while noting that data market design is extremely challenging)


  • our community is desperate for legally unencumbered public‑interest information covering the energy sector — indeed it is hard to understate how debilitating the current legal regime is for those pursuing public‑interest energy system analysis outside of various incumbent organizations
  • the emerging domain‑wide data use and management paradigm is entirely contingent on the application of CC‑BY‑4.0, CC0‑1.0, or something inbound compatible

I am looking for specific examples too. If you don't want your project or research staff named, I am sure we can find a suitable wording that will protect your identity while still articulating the core problem.

Having spent several years engaging with the European Commission on these matters, I think this is the best shot that we have had so far to get our views across.

We have two weeks to work on the written document and to collect endorsements. I should have a working draft out in three days time.

Happy, as always, to take feedback, onlist or offlist, Robbie

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