PSI Alliance Response to Commission Communication on the PSI Directive
The PSI Alliance wrote to Javier Hernandez Ros, Head of Unit DG INFSO, on 15 May 2009 in response to the European Commission's Communication on the PSI Directive. The full text of the letter can be viewed below.
15 May 2009
I am writing to you as Chair of the PSI Alliance further to the recent publication of the Commission’s Communication on the Re-Use of Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive. The PSI Alliance welcomes the publication of the Communication and believes it makes a valuable contribution to the PSI debate. We do however believe there is a need for even greater guidance for the PSI sector to enable the marketplace to deliver its full economic potential.
In the Communication, the Commission highlights that Member States must be encouraged to take greater action to remove barriers to re-use, such as the discrimination between potential users, high charges for public sector information and complex licensing policies and we welcome this. The recognition that the mindset of public sector bodies failing to realise the economic potential of PSI constitutes another serious barrier in the marketplace, is also welcome. As you know, the PSI Alliance’s membership is looking for both a fair and level playing field in the PSI marketplace, that enables us to access raw data both at marginal cost and with few restrictions and a more flexible and efficient redress system. The barriers identified by the Commission are a real and ongoing concern for our membership.
We would however have liked the Communication to set more implications and obligations for Member States to ensure that these barriers are overcome. We are concerned that the Communication lacks the necessary measures to ensure PSI Holders do not act in an anti competitive manner.
The Alliance also hopes that the Commission will consider commissioning a new market study on the re-use of PSI in the EU. It is important that the current momentum in the PSI arena is maintained, particularly amongst the re-user community, and we believe that various re-use market studies both at the EU and national level indicate that there are still issues and questions that need in-depth investigation. We would therefore like to discuss in concrete terms ways in which the Alliance could assist the Commission on a new study. We believe there would be real merit in commissioning a new market study on the economic and social value of PSI – which included an analysis of the effects of lower prices and access to data - in conjunction with setting up a PSI Market Observatory, similar to the EU’s Single Market Observatory. A PSI Market Observatory (PSIMO) could monitor developments, embrace the “shifting sands” problems, be empowered to commission specific market projects and be able to place the research meaningfully into an overall picture.
To address each of the recommendations that the Communication does make point by point:
- Implementation of the PSI Directive: The Alliance would have liked to have seen more steps taken to ensure full implementation and application of the PSI Directive and believes that this is essential to achieving a fair and level playing field.
- Exclusive Arrangements: We welcome the announcement that the Commission will be launching an investigation into exclusive arrangements in Summer 2009 and the Alliance will contribute to the investigation in any way we can.
- Charging: The Alliance is delighted that the Commission will continue to analyse the economic case for marginal costs and looks forward to working with the Commission on this.
The Alliance also welcomes the clarification that public sector bodies should be transparent on the calculation basis they apply for charges set by the Directive. We suggest that independent audit appeal bodies be established in each member state in order to ensure that costs are assessed in an equitable manner as proposed in the Communication.
- Facilitating Re-Use: The Alliance welcomes the announcement that the Commission will promote the exchange of good practices in measures facilitating re-use between Member States and looks forward to working with the Commission on this. Our members have examples of best practice in the countries they operate in and we would be happy to share this information with the Commission.
- Public Task: The Alliance believes that the Commission needs to work with Member States in defining their public tasks, in order to avoid unfair competition between the public sector and the private sector and we would be delighted to assist the Commission with this.
- Conflict Resolution: The Alliance believes that the Commission needs to actively engage with Member States to ensure they set up PSI complaint mechanisms. The Alliance again would be happy to assist the Commission in this.
I hope that you find this letter a useful contribution to the PSI debate in the wake of the recently published Communication. Going forward there are a number of areas on which we believe we can work with the Commission and we hope that the Commission will utilise our members’ expertise and see the Alliance as a key stakeholder in the PSI debate. The Alliance shares the Commission’s goal of wanting to achieve a fair and level playing field in the PSI arena and we hope that we can work in partnership on this in the coming months.
I look forward to hearing your response to the points raised in this document.
Chairman of the PSI Alliance