Building a Fair and Trustworthy Data-Driven Economy for the Future

By Bianca Manelli

On Wednesday March 23rd, 2022, SME Europe organised the webinar “Building a Fair and Trustworthy Data-Driven Economy for the Future” to discuss the potential of data for economic growth, competitiveness, innovation and job creation.

Hosted by Angelika Niebler MEP, ITRE Rapporteur on the Data Governance Act, and moderated by Eline Chivot, Senior Adviser on Digital Policy, EPP, the webinar saw the participation of Anna Buchta, Head of Unit Policy and Consultation, European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS); Kimon Zorbas, Head of Public Policy, DATEV eG; Vera Demary, Head of the Research Unit Digitalization, Structural Change and Competition, German Economic Institute Köln; and Karina Stan, Director of EU Policy, Developers Alliance. 

Angelika Niebler MEP welcomed the guests by remarking the responsibilities of legislators: arranging funding opportunities, building up infrastructure and creating the right legal framework, while keeping an eye to future developments of the ever-changing, global digital landscape. In the particular case of SMEs, the Data Governance Act seeks to rebalance their negotiation power by preventing abuse of contractual imbalances in data-sharing.

“In Europe, we need to unleash the power of data in our own way,” agreed Anna Buchta. The DGA sets standards for data altruism and provides legal certainty, especially to smaller players, within the existing framework of the GDPR. 

Kimon Zorbas remarked that, while the transition towards a data-driven economy is on its way, at a systemic level there isn’t enough drive towards innovation. Ultimately, “a framework is just a framework” and SMEs need a win-win scenario to thrive. Vera Demary remarked on the importance of trust in data-sharing for SMEs. According to a survey conducted by the German Economic Institute Köln, only 29% of participants are properly equipped for the data economy. The polled SMEs lag particularly behind: 72% of the companies with less than 50 employees are not ready for this transformation. 

Karina Stan reported the developers’ perspective, mentioning some scepticism regarding the Data Strategy as the legislation is based on flawed premises. “Data in itself is not valuable,” disruptive innovation is also needed as the true value comes from the information and knowledge derived from data.