Home Press Release Data Governance Act Sets EU on a Path to Protectionism

Data Governance Act Sets EU on a Path to Protectionism

by Eline Chivot

BRUSSELS—In response to the European Commission’s Data Governance Act, published today, Eline Chivot, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Data Innovation, released the following statement:

Today’s proposal confirms the many worrying signals that Brussels has decided to pursue policies that are protectionist, discriminatory, and counterproductive.

The underlying goals of the Data Governance Act—to unlock the value of data throughout the EU—are ambitious and commendable. Indeed, many of the Act’s provisions have merit, such as establishing a process to allow individuals to donate their data, creating a European Data Innovation Board, and encourage reuse of public sector data.

However, it is clear that this proposal is as much an attempt to hobble foreign tech companies as it is an attempt to build up European ones. While the Commission has removed the explicit data localization requirements found in earlier drafts, it still maintains restrictions on transferring commercially sensitive data to non-EU countries and would require commercial data intermediaries to establish legal representation in the EU. Given that the EU’s data protection laws apply globally to firms using personal data about EU citizens and residents, such measures are unnecessary and counterproductive. The proposal would also allow EU member states to charge large tech companies more for public sector data, another obvious attempt to give an unfair advantage to smaller domestic companies.

Despite some good intentions, the Data Governance Act is a blatant move to undercut foreign companies, especially American ones. It would restrict access to European data and would further cement the EU’s shift to digital protectionism and hurt the ability of many EU businesses to grow and innovate in the digital economy. At the same time, the Act would undermine the goals of a more globally integrated economy, a goal EU officials continue to give lip service to but fail to back with significant action.

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