EU Policymakers Must Forge Consensus on How to Capture the Benefits of Data Revolution or Risk Being Left Behind
BRUSSELS—The Center for Data Innovation today released a new report calling on European policymakers to forge consensus around a vision and strategy for harnessing the power of data-driven innovation to grow the economy and improve people’s quality of life—much as they already have coalesced around the need to protect citizens’ privacy.
“The data revolution creates vast opportunities to spur growth and address social challenges,” said Daniel Castro, the Center’s director and the report’s co-author. “If Europe is going to take full advantage of data-driven innovation, then the Commission and Member States must embrace a future where data is a core component of their strategies for economic progress and social empowerment. One of Europe’s most vexing challenges is that while it has created a political consensus on protecting the privacy of its citizens by regulating how their personal data is handled, it has achieved no similar consensus on how to capture the benefits of the data economy, which hinges on enabling people and organizations to collect, share, and analyze information.”
Released at the Center’s inaugural policy forum for its Brussels office, the report proposes three steps European policymakers should take to begin more fully embracing the data economy:
- Member States should appoint national chief data officers to champion data-driven innovation domestically, both within their respective governments and in the private sector.
- The European Council should establish an independent advisory panel made up of national chief data officers to work with the Commission and Parliament to forge consensus around a cohesive vision and strategy for capturing the full benefits of data-driven innovation in Europe.
- The European Commission should accelerate “lighthouse” projects that demonstrate the commercial value of data-driven innovation in key sectors of the economy.
“Europe has achieved some early successes in data-driven innovation, especially where the government has played a key role, such as smart cities, but it has not yet come close to reaching its full potential, especially in the commercial sphere,” said Paul MacDonnell, head of European policy at the Center and the report’s co-author. “There have been some signs of progress, but Member States and Brussels must put data-driven innovation at the top of a shared agenda if they don’t want to risk getting left behind in the global economy.”