[geo-discuss] draft of open letter to MEPs

Rufus Pollock rufus.pollock at okfn.org
Sun Mar 12 15:10:02 UTC 2006

Jo Walsh wrote:
> is here:
> http://publicgeodata.org/Open_Letter
> the plan is to send a punchier version of this, with the analysis of 
> the second reading amendments as an appendix, to the ENVI committee 
> MEPs, both in PDF and print-into-pigeonhole form, by monday latest
> commentary / edits would  be really gratefully received,

I planned to just make a few edits but ultimately due to coupling I have 
ended up doing a complete rewrite :( which I insert below. What do 
people think? At this point we really need to move quite fast since we 
must get this to ENVI MEPs by mid-week and we still need to:
   i) prepare appendix on evidence
   ii) finish voting list appendix
   iii) convert to a nice shiny pdf document that we email and/or post 
to MEPs




Dear XXX,

We are writing to raise serious concerns regarding the current draft of 
the INSPIRE directive on establishing a common framework for sharing 
geographic information in Europe. This is an important issue as it is 
estimated that fully 80% of all information collected by government has 
a spatial component and geographic information is needed for 
environmental, census, and transport purposes among many others. 
Moreover state-collected geographic information is a public good and, as 
demonstrated by several studies, open access to it is the only way to 
realize its full social and commercial potential for Europe.

A Directive establishing a framework for sharing geographic information 
that promoted open access would enhance economic competitiveness, social 
wellbeing, and collaboration between member states. It would strenghten 
civil society, create jobs and services and improve environmental and 
resource management. [ED note: could drop this para]

However since the first draft of INSPIRE, a set of amendments have been 
introduced which restrict the rights of the public to access, or even 
know about the existence of, geographic information that they have paid 
to collect. Thus in its current form, as found in the Council's common 
position, the directive not only fails to promote open access but risks 
doing the very opposite.

This would be a disastrous outcome and one which ran against the very 
purpose of INSPIRE. As the Commission itself, has stated in this regard: 
"the common position could have the effect of reducing rather than 
increasing the availability of spatial data. ... The text of the common 
position leaves too much scope for data providers to refuse to give 
public access to their data and share it with other authorities."

Thus we urge you to support amendments that promote open access and the 
sharing of geographic information and provide detailed recommendations 
in this regard as an appendix to this letter.

We also suggest that rejection be considered should it prove impossible 
to remove the obstacles to open access that currently exist in the text. 
Such an outcome would be better than the adoption of a flawed directive 
and, should the Commission reintroduce the proposal, would allow for the 
development of a new draft which adequately  considered the broader 
implications for access and reuse of spatial and environmental data, and 
included more of the local government, academic, business and civil 
society interests who will be deeply affected by INSPIRE's terms.

Yours Sincerely,


Appendix A:

Selection of quotes and references:
   * PIRA
   * KPMG
   * Weiss

Appendix B:

Voting recommendations with reasons

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