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New EU regulatory enviroment for data spaces


In 2020, the European Union Commission unveiled the “European Strategy for Data“, aiming to establish a unified data market to bolster Europe’s global competitiveness and data sovereignty. This strategy comprised several proposed regulations, further detailed in the box on page 3:

Proposal for AI Act (AIA-E)
Proposal for Data Act (DA-E)
Data Governance Act (DGA)
Digital Markets Act (DMA)
Digital Services Act (DSA)

However, the increasing complexity of the regulatory framework and the lack of alignment between these new proposals pose challenges. Their interrelation with pre-existing laws—like data protection, competition, and intellectual property laws—is not explicitly defined. Additionally, a lack of unified terminology complicates interpretation and compatibility with existing legislation.

Each of these proposed regulations varies in terms of their primary focus and extent. For instance, the DMA and DSA serve to regulate competition and rights in the digital space, while the DA-E and DGA are mainly centered on data access and usage. On the other hand, the AI Act stands somewhat apart, not being closely tied to the other proposals. When looking specifically at the realm of B2B data spaces, the more comprehensive DA-E and DGA are likely to exert the most substantial influence, whereas the other regulations hold a less central role within this domain.

Considerations regarding DA-E and DGA

The Data Act Proposal (DA-E) pertains to the access and use of data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices, impacting several roles tied to this data. However, the broad interpretations it allows create potential legal ambiguity, especially in terms of contract negotiation freedom. Future adjustments to the DA-E will be crucial for clearer legal implications and practical data sharing solutions.

The Data Governance Act (DGA) also raises concerns due to its broad role definitions for data sharing. Its existing definitions don’t adequately represent the complex roles within data spaces, suggesting a need for better alignment. The DGA lists several obligations for intermediation service providers, key players in the data economy. These obligations aim to establish a trustworthy data sharing framework.

Both regulations highlight the importance of neutrality in data intermediation services, which is essential to increase trust and control among data stakeholders. Ensuring these providers act purely as intermediaries without other uses for the shared data will be vital.

Challenges and opportunities for EU's DIB in developing common data spaces

The Data Governance Act (DGA) presents several challenges, providing broad rules that require further specification by national laws and practical solutions. The proposed European Data Innovation Board (EDIB) will aid in developing guidelines for common European data spaces and identifying interoperability requirements.

There could be connections between the DGA and other regulations, particularly in interoperability standards. Guidelines for such standards, as indicated in the Data Act Proposal (DA-E), might be overseen by the EDIB under the DGA, promoting consistency across regulations.

Data space initiatives like IDSA, which have already created reference frameworks and architectures, will be essential in this process. The EU strategy should build upon these existing initiatives for interoperability and future infrastructure agreements.

Finally, the Data Spaces Support Centre (DSSC) will be key in offering consistent support for these common EU data spaces under the new regulations.

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