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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Trade associations issue joint statement expressing concern over EU Data Act

Trade associations issue joint statement expressing concern over EU Data Act


Industry organisations argue that the new rules should be tested before launch  

A joint statement signed by 30 EU trade associations, dated 1 February, claims that the EU’s new Data Act as currently drafted “is a huge leap into the unknown,” which will impact the business models of European companies and may introduce unintended consequences.

The industry organisations stress that the new rules need to be “tried and tested in real-world market conditions to make sure they work for European businesses,” rather than being rushed and imposed on unsuspecting businesses already facing great economic upheaval and uncertainty.

The European Commission’s proposal for a regulation on harmonised rules on fair access to and use of data, otherwise known as the Data Act, which was first published on 23 February 2022, aims to remove barriers to data access for consumers and businesses, and as such sets out new rules on how data is accessed, shared and ported.  

According to the joint statement, the European Parliament and the Council should guarantee that the proposal: protects trade secrets, safety, security and privacy by including effective safeguards to prevent data misuse and unfair competition; gives certainty to companies on if and what they must share, starting by setting clear definitions; enables companies to find mutually beneficial data-driven relationships by recognising the central role of flexible contractual terms; differentiates between the business-to-business and business-to-consumer contexts and provides different rules and safeguards; sets strict conditions for business-to-government data requests and limits the scope to public emergencies; promotes cloud adoption through an applicable and adaptable switching framework that reflects technical reality and market needs; does not create new obstacles to international data flows; and allows for a longer transition period, of at least 36 months, to give companies time to prepare, and does not apply retroactively.

The EU Data Act, arguably the most important of the legislative initiatives making up Europe’s 2020 strategy for data, is currently being negotiated by member states. The EU’s ambitious legislative package, which aims to set the foundations for Europe’s digital transformation, includes the Data Governance Act, the Digital Markets Act, the Digital Services Act and the Artificial Intelligence Act. The European Commission describes the Data Act’s main objective as being “to make Europe a leader in the data economy by harnessing the potential of the ever-increasing amount of industrial data, in order to benefit the European economy and society.”