If you have more than a passing interest in EU policies related to the internet, digital content and digital technologies then you’ve probably heard of Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda.

Today Neelie gave a virtual address for participants at OKFestival, one of the largest open knowledge events to date. The event has convened over 800 open data, open content and open access advocates in Helsinki for six days of talks, workshops and hackathons.

In her talk Neelie highlights the European Commission’s commitment to policies, projects and funding to support open data and open access, including for public sector information, cultural data, science and research.

Her address closes with the following remarks:

I know you at the OKFestival don’t need convincing about the benefits of openness, nor about the huge innovation that it can fuel. Rest assured, the EU is behind you.

You can watch the video of Neelie’s address and read the full transcript below.

Video address to participants at Open Knowledge Festival, Helsinki, 20th September 2012

Data is a 21st century commodity: it’s the new oil. There’s almost no limit to the economic and social wonders it can generate: new applications and new tools appear every day.

That’s why the Commission has an ambitious Open Data Strategy. To really make the most of this huge asset within our single market. Here are four things we’re doing in particular.

First, we’ve proposed new legislation to open up public sector information. So businesses and citizens can more easily access and use this great resource, across the EU: without complicated or costly conditions. For the first time, the scope also includes cultural institutions. And the Commission will be practising what it preaches: by putting our own data on a single online portal, with free and easy access.

All this takes a big culture change – but I’m confident that the countries of the EU can look ahead to the huge opportunity, and support our proposal. After all, opening up public sector data could generate economic gains around €40 billion a year, and that’s not something anyone can ignore right now.

Second, you may be aware of exciting recent developments for cultural open data. Over recent years, the EU has promoted Europeana as the access point for Europe’s libraries, museums, galleries and archives. It’s a treasure trove of cultural heritage; and a creative hub.

So I’m delighted that, just last week, Europeana announced it was putting the metadata for over 20 million exhibits into the public domain: using the creative commons CC-zero open licence.

This is a step change in open data access, and an international first. Moving away from a closed and controlled approach to this kind of data, to one based on large-scale, free re-use. Where you can link it up, for example with tourism or broadcasting data, and find ever more creative uses.

In the open and fertile environment that Europeana has now created, I hope we will see many more apps blooming. Just imagine the new applications for libraries, schools, or hotels: all powered by Europeana. So a big thank you to those cultural institutions that had the vision to take us there.

Third, openness also benefits science. Helping scientists collaborate and progress – and helping citizens, businesses and research funders benefit. We’ve proposed to make available, under open access, all publications that stem from EU-funded research. And to progressively open access to the data from scientific experiments and studies too. This is a great way to enable a new reality for science – and I’m glad the EU is playing its part.

Fourth, we will of course continue to support research related to open data. Like the LOD2 project, using open source software to help people publish linked data. Likewise, over the next two years we will invest €45 million on open access infrastructures for science, and on digital preservation. I hope that projects like this will continue under Horizon 2020, the next generation of EU research and innovation funding.

I know you at the OKFestival don’t need convincing about the benefits of openness, nor about the huge innovation that it can fuel. Rest assured, the EU is behind you.

Have a great Festival!

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Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at jonathangray.org and he tweets at @jwyg.

2 thoughts on ““Rest assured, the EU is behind you” says European Commissioner Neelie Kroes to OKFestival participants”

  1. Thanks for the message! It is great to hear, that the EU is backing the efforts of the communities for opendata!

    Just one consideration: IMHO I would not refer to data as the new oil, as data is no scarce ressource which gets exhausted when used. Perhaps we could find a better metapher? data as the new soil? any better ideas? anyone?

    BTW: there is an interesting article about this topic by @michelreimon: http://reimon.net/2012/08/28/medienokonomie-geistiges-eigentum-ist-nicht-das-ol-der-zukunft/ – unfortunately only available in German…

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