<style>.lazy{display:none}</style> EU Data Regulations

Making sense of new EU-wide data regulations, the red thread behind the digital single market

A multitude of new regulations are either in the ordinary legislative procedure or already in force. These include the Data Act, the Data Governance Act, the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, the Cyber-Resilience Act, European Health Data Space Regulation, the Artificial Intelligence Act. Data regulations in the European Union (EU) are becoming more complex and challenging for businesses to comply with. The increasing number of administrative burdens and compliance requirements in these regulated areas are a valid concern for businesses. Supervisory enforcement, for enacted regulations will be a wake-up call for organizations that are not prepared. Tech players operating in the EU and authorities overseeing those activities face the similar challenge of adapting to legislative overlap. New fines, new supervisory authorities and new compliance requirements are expected. To better understand this burst of regulation, the EU’s strategic policies must be carefully examined.

What is the EU aiming for?

  • The United States (US) and China (CN) have different advantages in the field of technological competitiveness. 
  • The US has a strong private sector with abundant financial resources, while CN has a state-sponsored private sector. 
  • The EU meanwhile wants to shape its own digital future, and create a competitive Digital Single Market while enforcing European democratic values. In a short span of time, the European Commission has implemented digital transformation policies to become more competitive in the global economy, reduce the carbon footprint that arises from the red-tape bureaucracy and go digital. 
  • Better public services and comprehensive scientific research will be strengthened by the re-use of data envisaged in the European Strategy for Data

Understanding the distinct European view on data 

Greater productivity for IoT and data-enabled products are also on the list. But greater accessibility to data is needed to enable innovation in a data-driven economy. This explains why data intermediaries are expected to play a key economic role, as envisioned in the Data Governance Act. Making more data available to smaller players will be made possible by creating common European data spaces in strategic sectors. There are multiple underlying reasons for the data spaces, all of which align with the strategic data policies of the European Union.

  • The new regulations are in line with the existing strategic objectives, allowing for organizations to get ahead of the game by embracing the EU’s strategic data policies. 
  • The industrial data space and co-generated industrial data is part of the Data Act. 
  • The common European health data space is also regulated with the upcoming European Health Data Space Regulation. 
  • Green Deal data space, financial data space, energy data space, agricultural data spaces, are also mentioned in the “European Strategy for Data”.

EU strategic goals

  • The digitalisation of public services and the digital transformation of businesses are of high priority in the 2030 Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade
  • The Digital Compass goals are consistent with the rising amount of data being created in the EU. 
  • The EU is determined to maintain its regulatory norms and standards in its relations with international partners. 
  • By 2030, the EU aims to build an interconnected data processing ecosystem conscious of fundamental rights and in full compliance with legal requirements. As stated in the 2030 Digital Compass policy, the EU will continue to promote the ethical use of AI, establish strict cybersecurity and resilience requirements, tackle disinformation and illegal content online, ensure the operational security of digital finance and facilitate transformation of e-government. Respectively, these strategic policies are being covered by the Artificial Intelligence Act, the NIS2 directive and Cyber-Resilience Act, the Digital Services Act, the Digital Operational Resilience Act for the financial sector and European Health Data Space Regulation.

Implications for the future

These new regulations pave the way for the EU to achieve its new industrial strategy of climate neutrality and digital leadership. They help to reduce the carbon footprint and prevent red tape bureaucracy. 

  • The digital transformation is essential for a greener EU.
  • The reuse of data is also critical. 
  • As stated in the EU Strategy for Data, this includes greater productivity and competitive markets, as well as improvements in health and well-being. 

The emergence of data-driven ecosystems can prove itself in the long run but it may take years for the EU to figure out the interplay of new regulations within the existing legal frameworks, the preparation of new guidelines and the appropriate degree of coordination between supervisory authorities. 

The EU will need to ensure that data and data-enabled products and services are available throughout the single market. Considering the EU’s goal of building a legal digital framework and becoming an international market leader, similar regulations may spread over time to different continents through the Brussels Effect. The key intention is to create a European data ecosystem that is respectful of fundamental rights. Whether these strategic intentions will be translated into the regulatory scope as intended remains to be seen. 

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