On 1 December, the Transport Committee of the European Parliament (TRAN) dealt for the first time with the European Data Strategy presented by the European Commission in February or the opinion of the lead Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The ITRE Committee had published a draft report on a European strategy for data on 11 September 2020. The draft report welcomes in particular the European Commission's data strategy and considers it a prerequisite for the viability of European industries and emerging artificial intelligence, as well as an important step towards a democratic data society that will bring better services, growth and jobs. Furthermore, the draft report addresses, among other things, the new European framework for data governance, data access, interoperability and infrastructure, and scientific research. Moreover, the draft report highlights that global rules for the use of data are insufficient and therefore calls on the Commission to work with like-minded third countries to agree new international standards for the use of new technologies. Finally, the draft report calls for the free flow of data between the EU and third countries where data protection, security and other legitimate public interests are met, and encourages the Commission to negotiate new rules for the global digital economy, including the prohibition of unjustified data localisation requirements.
The rapporteur responsible in the TRAN Committee welcomed many of the amendments tabled and took the opportunity to present his own draft opinion, in which he put the protection of personal data at the forefront. The transport sector had to become more customer and environmentally friendly, especially through better data exchange. To this end, the existing legal framework had to be improved, especially with regard to cyber security, but also with regard to vehicles and data security. During the debate, some MEPs outlined their priorities for the European strategy on data use in the transport and tourism sectors, including a more proactive approach to data use to foster innovation in Europe and improved legal protection to allow citizens to benefit from data and create a better operating environment for SMEs and start-ups. Some MEPs recalled that the transport and tourism sectors already generate large amounts of data, which should be better used to make the sectors safer and cleaner. In this respect, Europe needs a legal framework that finds the right approach and balance to ensure data protection, taking into account who owns the data and the need to share data when and where it serves the growth of industries. Data should be used to develop the application of artificial intelligence in the field of smart, connected, and autonomous driving, by creating the right incentives and ensuring fair rules, and by stimulating a proper debate in society. Data sharing should also be enabled for research. It is important to create European standards based on the principles of accessibility, interoperability and reusability, including for data storage and processing.