[geo-discuss] Fw: RE: Letter from your constituent Jo Walsh

Jo Walsh jo at frot.org
Tue Mar 14 19:41:33 UTC 2006

I was pleased to receive this mail from the Greens in response to a 
fax-your-MEP i sent back last June, just today, an indication that
there are real efforts to manage relationships with constituents, and
that the Greens really are interested in hearing views from more
people, especially in support of the rapporteurs' amendments to remove
a lot of the Council inserted IP/protection/pricing clauses.

is my archive of the very pro-IP, pro-cost-recovery statement of
support for the council common position that EuroGeographics emitted,
that was attached to this email.
----- Forwarded message from LEHTONEN Terhi <tlehtonen at europarl.eu.int> -----

Subject: RE: Letter from your constituent Jo Walsh
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2006 14:40:36 +0100
From: "LEHTONEN Terhi" <tlehtonen at europarl.eu.int>
To: "Jo Walsh" <jw at frot.org>
Cc: "LUCAS Caroline" <clucas at europarl.eu.int>

Dear Mr. Walsh,
Please find attached the draft report by Mrs. Brepoels on the second
reading of the INSPIRE Directive and amendments that have been tabled to
it by ENVI members. So far we have supported the Rapporteur in her
general line, despite some stakeholder opposition (see EurGeographics
lobby position attached). The ENVI committee will vote on the amendments
next Tuesday 21 March and the Rapporteur intends to seek a compromise
with the Council before the plenary vote in June. Your comments will be
most welcome,
all the best,
Terhi Lehtonen
Environment Advisor Greens /EFA Group
European Parliament
PHS 3C87
rue Wiertz, B-1047 Brussels
Tel: + 32 2 284 30 52
Gsm: +32 497 548 377
Fax: + 32 2 284 25 60
E-mail: tlehtonen at europarl.eu.int
Strasbourg Office TO 4054
Tel: + 33 3 88 17 58 78

-----Original Message-----
From: Jo Walsh [mailto:jw at frot.org]
Sent: 01 June 2005 15:00
To: LUCAS Caroline
Subject: Letter from your constituent Jo Walsh

                                                      Jo Walsh
                                                      26 Leyburn Close
                                                      RG5 4PX
                                                      Email: jw at frot.org

Wednesday 01 June 2005

Dear Caroline Lucas,

I am a constituent of yours, a software developer and writer about open
source Geographic Information Systems, which use geographic data to tie
together, and represent, different kinds of civic, social,
infrastructure and planning information.

I'm writing to draw your attention to the upcoming reading in the
European Parliament of the proposed INSPIRE directive on spatial data,
scheduled for the 6th June 2005 agenda item 37.

This is a Directive that claims to "support environmental protection
policies as well as infrastructure development, agriculture and
maritime navigation" by creating a set of "implementing rules" for
exchanging geographic information.

There are several problems with this piece of legislation;

- It has been drawn up by a committee of representatives of National
Mapping Agencies such as the Ordnance Survey. Many interest groups,
collectors of spatial data and users of that data, have not been
consulted in its construction. The marine and oceanographic community
asked for their data sets to be *excluded* from those covered by the
INSPIRE Directive; it is more constrictive than many current data
sharing agreements.

- There is heavy emphasis on the "implementing rules" which will be
binding on each Member State, and with which all data-producing
agencies - including local government and research efforts - will have
to comply. The "implementing rules" are never described; there no
agreement as to the standards involved. There no process for open
consultation, for agreement on best practise; no assessment of the
technical and economic impact they will cause to participants.

- The proposed Directive contains a clause which effectively allows the
European Commission to establish a common licensing and pricing policy
across Member States, within three months from a time of its choosing;
with no more agreement necessary than an unrepresentative committee of
National Mapping Agency representatives. Article 24 of the current
proposed Directive states:

  "The Commission shall, in accordance with the procedure referred to
in Article 30(2), adopt implementing rules to increase the potential of
re-use of spatial data sets and services by third parties. These
implementing rules may include the establishment of common licensing

In the United States, all state collected spatial information is
available free of cost in the public domain, through simple web
download facilities. A next-generation, burgeoning internet industry of
local search and mobile, location-based services is dependent on access
to geographic data. Canada and Australia are moving towards open
geodata policies. But Europe is moving to reinforce price-barrier
restrictions on access to state-held map data; to reduce potential for
innovation in non-profit and research settings.

Local government is a big holder and collector of spatial data (75% of
information collected by government has a spatial component. The
INSPIRE Directive will add to local government's current cost burden of
licensing the data from the National Mapping Agency. The demands of
INSPIRE's unspecified "implementing rules" will impose a great cost
burden on already stretched local government, forcing authorities to
recoup costs by charging more for public access to public information.

INSPIRE is one-sided legislation, drawn up by a cartel of government
agencies who fear for their own future viability in an increasingly
competitive commercial digital mapping world. INSPIRE side-steps the
debate on public access to state-collected information, and the
commercial re-use of state-owned information; but access to geographic
data is at the heart of this debate. We need access to geographic and
environmental data to make sense of our world; to analyse voting
patterns, to allocate and discover public services, to scrutinise at an
environmental and civic level the impact of government's plans for the

The powers conferred on the Commission to impose a licensing and
pricing policy at will in Article 24 are unreasonable. Article 20(1)
states that 'discovery' and 'viewing' services for environmental
spatial information should be available for free; to really perform a
public service approaching the quality of that now offered by the US
government, Article 20(1) should be extended to guarantee free
*download* access data, 18(1)(c), by EU citizens.

Please consider using your power as an MEP not to rubberstamp this
decision, but to call into question the implications of charging a
heavy price for citizen's access to the information we need to make
sense of the world.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Walsh

(Signed with an electronic signature in accordance with subsection 7(3)
of the Electronic Communications Act 2000.)


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Subject: INSPIRE Directive
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2006 12:09:29 +0100
Thread-Topic: INSPIRE Directive
Thread-Index: AcZHVfexB2VKVA/PR3W9cuz/idiMqg==
From: "Nick Land" <nick.land at eurogeographics.org>
To: "HASSI Satu" <shassi at europarl.eu.int>

Dear Mrs Hassi
For your information I have sent the following e-mail to all members of the Greens/European Free Alliance who sit on the Environment Committee. I remain, of course, available to discuss INSPIRE with you (or your advisors) at any time, if you think this would be helpful.
Best wishes
Nick Land, Executive Director of EuroGeographics
I understand that many of you will be holding working group meetings this week in Strasbourg to discuss the INSPIRE Directive, 2nd reading EP amendments proposed by the Rapporteur, Mrs Brepoels, in advance of the Environment Committee vote on 21st March. 
EuroGeographics, the association of Europe's National Mapping & Cadastral Agencies, is one of main groups of stakeholders who will be involved in the implementation of INSPIRE. Unfortunately, of the 35 amendments proposed by the Rapporteur (version dated 1.2.2006), some 20 are unacceptable when viewed from the perspective of those organisations, not only the mapping agencies, who will have to make INSPIRE work in practise. For a so called 'technical' directive, INSPIRE has become side-tracked by an ideological debate on Intellectual Property Rights and Pricing and Licensing of data when the *real* issues are of a more technical nature, such as the harmonisation of different data specifications across Europe. 
I know that INSPIRE is not 'sexy', but the spatial information that it will (or should) deliver is vital to the development and implementation of Environmental policy across Europe. INSPIRE, therefore, is an important directive, but please can I ask you to think about the potential impact of what is being proposed and ask yourself whether the amendments help to reduce the barriers to greater sharing of spatial information across Europe or actually will increase them and reduce the quality of the available data? 
The attached document provides a summary of what seem to be the key issues and I hope you are able to review it before your working group meetings and/or the Environment Committee vote. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
Thank you in advance for your time.  
Nick Land
Executive Director of EuroGeographics
T: +33 1 64 15 32 65 (office)
T: +33 6 07 10 42 32 (mobile)
www.eurogeographics.org <http://www.eurogeographics.org/> 

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