EU warns Luxembourg to comply with open data rules

The infringement procedure can result in action at the Court of Justice at the European Union Photo: Shutterstock

The infringement procedure can result in action at the Court of Justice at the European Union Photo: Shutterstock

The European Commission on Thursday opened infringement procedures against Luxembourg and 18 other EU member countries for failing to transpose a directive on access to public sector data by a July 2021 deadline.

The 2019 directive sets out minimum criteria for governments to share public information and datasets for re-use by commercial and non-commercial entities.  And even though Luxembourg has an open data strategy, it is late in implementing the rules.

A draft law to transport the directive into national law is pending in parliament. The bill was first submitted in July 2020 and has been reviewed by the State Council, which must assess all laws on their compatibility with the constitution and other applicable laws.

Luxembourg’s National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) in its opinion on the draft law said it welcomes the proposals but warned that personal data must be protected.

“The Directive on open data and the reuse of public sector information, adopted on 20 June 2019, aims to unlock the benefits of data and will help to make more of the vast and valuable pool of data resources produced by public bodies available for reuse,” the European Commission said on Thursday.

“The Directive will stimulate the development of innovative solutions such as mobility apps, increase transparency by opening the access to publicly funded research data, and support new technologies, including artificial intelligence,” it said.

Member states had to transpose the directive into national law by 17 July 2021. The commission has now sent a letter of formal notice to Luxembourg but also Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Spain, Estonia, Crotia, Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Sweden as part of the infringement procedure.

The countries have two months to respond to the letter. Should this response fail to prove to the commission that necessary steps are being taken to implement the directive, it can issue so-called reasoned opinions, a formal request to comply with EU law.  

If countries still don’t comply two months later, the commission can refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Union to seek sanctions.

The commission last week referred Luxembourg to the court over its failure to implement a directive on the acquisition and possession of firearms after launching the infringement procedure in 2018.

A draft law was submitted to parliament in March 2019 but is yet to be voted by members of parliament.

In June, the commission said it would seize the court to issue a penalty against Luxembourg for failing to transpose rules on the freezing and confiscation of proceeds from crime, which were due to be transposed by October 2016.

Here, too, a draft law is pending a vote in parliament.