Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Opinion of the Committee of the Regions on 'Public sector information: a key resource for Europe'

The opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Commission's green paper on public sector information in the Information Society, entitled 'Public sector information: a key resource for Europe', has been published on the Official Journal of the European Communities.

As a p...
The opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the Commission's green paper on public sector information in the Information Society, entitled 'Public sector information: a key resource for Europe', has been published on the Official Journal of the European Communities.

As a principle, the COR supports the right of European citizens to have access to the information that affects their daily lives.

The opinion notes the rapid growth of the Internet has meant that local and regional authorities are able to provide greater access to the information they hold. However, cultural and administrative differences mean the provision of this information can vary greatly. The COR says the Commission may wish to reflect on the most appropriate channels for providing information and to whom the information should be addressed.

The need for protection and privacy of personal data is also noted in the opinion.

The COR also states that local and regional authorities should be able to benefit from the commercial values inherent in the provision of information.

The COR expressed its support on many principles regarding the terms of access and provision of public information, although it cautioned on the need to address practical issues of delivery of information and costs.

The COR is also concerned about introducing binding legal information in this field, which may mitigate against the principle of subsidiarity. The COR suggests developing legislation at a 'lowest common denominator' level, and developing 'best practice' in the provision of the public sector.

The Commission could consult via the COR with local and regional authorities to discuss the role of sub-national government in the provision of public sector information. The COR proposes a number of 'pilot' local and regional authorities across the Member States be selected for this purpose, to report to the Commission on how principles of access could be translated into reality and on whether it would be possible to achieve greater commonality in information provision.

To achieve a good dialogue between local, regional and national tiers of government, the COR would wish to see the encouragement of schemes in which local webmasters input information provided by the public sector.

Furthermore, the COR notes that there is a growing need for education and training on accessing information delivered electronically, and would recommend that the Commission stresses this need to the Member States.

Source: Official Journal of the European Communities
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