Big and Open Data in Europe: A growth engine or a missed opportunity?

By Pawel Swieboda, President demosEUROPA

The EU28 economy stands to gain by a significant 1.9% increase in area GDP by 2020 if the appropriate policy measures that foster the proliferation of Big and Open Data are implemented, according to a research paper entitled Big & Open Data in Europe: A growth engine or a missed opportunity?” co-authored by demosEUROPA and the Warsaw Institute of Economic Studies. The paper investigates the macroeconomic impact of Big and Open data on the European economy, providing policy makers with recommendations of how to maximise the economic opportunity ahead of us.

From an economic perspective, it’s undeniable. There is huge economic potential in the European Region for Big Data uptake. Although there are big differences in the way Big Data is being approached, each corner of the EU could benefit from it. By splitting Europe into three categories—northern, southern, and eastern—and assessing the effects of big data in 21 sectors across the EU’s 28 member states, this study considers the economic impact and required paradigm shift when regarding big data and provides policy recommendations at an EU level. Key findings of our report include

  1. Big and open data will bring immediate benefits to advanced markets in Europe, while it has strong long-term potential in less mature markets – speeding up the growth of the service sector and driving the creation of knowledge economies. Indeed, the implementation of open data policies would have significant growth implications for Europe, leading to an estimated increase in GDP of €206 billion—or 1.9% of GDP—by 2020. Put another way, this GDP increase will play out across the region in the following way: in the Northern European countries (2.2%), followed by New Member States (1.9%), and Southern European countries (1.6%).
  2. Furthermore, opening up and ensuring easy access to data for the public provides benefits both for data holders and data users. It will provide maximum ease of access to data enables business and technological innovation, and enhance  excellence in public services through increased transparency of governmental services.  Finally, better informed citizens are able to make more efficient use of public sector services.  From a private sector standpoint, it will offer private companies an opportunity to build trust with customers by giving them greater say in how their personal data is used and will increase validity of research by allowing for more sophisticated analysis of large data sets.
  3. It is also crucial to recognize the different levels of preparedness of individual Member States for the challenges and opportunities of a data-driven economy will allow for policy solutions that are both tailored to local specificities and strengthen the scale of the common market.  Create a truly single digital market will help  lower the entry barriers to the big data industry in Europe, facilitating pan-EU ICT solutions with lower costs for consumers and the public sector.
  4. Finally, tackling the innovation lag, to ensure appropriate open data policies and securing finance for innovative data solutions will allow Europe to foster the talent it needs to ensure its competitive edge, especially through SMEs generating most of the economic growth – or downturn –  in the region.

We launched our report today in the European Parliament at an event hosted by MEP Jacek Protasiewicz, and in front of an audience of Brussels-based policy makers and advisors.

Dr Maciej Bukowski from Warsaw Institute of Economic Studies presented the key research findings.

We convened a panel discussion with Michal Boni (former Minister of Administration and Digitization, Poland), Carl-Christian Buhr (Member of Cabinet, Cabinet of Neelie Kroes) and Dejan Cvetkovic (Technology Officer, Microsoft) to tease out a number of the findings from both a technology and policy point of view.

All parties agreed that Big and Open Data remains an untapped opportunity for the economy, businesses and citizens of Europe; we welcome further debate on this topic and call on European policy makers to immerse themselves in determining the most effective ways of uncovering this growth potential.


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