EC opens infringement proceedings against Bulgaria on open data use

The European Commission said on September 30 that it opened infringement proceedings against 19 member states, Bulgaria among them, concerning the the transposition of revised EU rules on open data and the reuse of public sector information, set out in Directive (EU) 2019/1024.

The directive in question “aims to unlock the benefits of data and will help to make more of the vast and valuable pool of data resources produced by public bodies available for reuse,” stimulating the development of innovative solutions such as mobility apps, increase transparency by opening the access to publicly funded research data, and support new technologies, including artificial intelligence, the Commission said in a statement.

EU member states were required to implement the directive’s provisions into their national laws and notify transposition measures to the Commission by July 17 2021, but the 19 member states had failed to provide complete information on their progress towards that goal.

The member states now have two months to respond to the letters of formal notice sent by the Commission and take the necessary measures. Should they fail to do so, the Commission may decide to issue reasoned opinions, the second stage of infringement proceedings.

In a separate statement, the Commission said that it adopted its first opinion based on a new procedure introduced by the Mutual Recognition Regulation, meant to improve the application of rules on mutual recognition to facilitate the sale of products within the EU, specifically those goods that are not subject to EU-wide harmonisation and are lawfully marketed in one member state.

This first opinion concerns a Greek company, which faced issues to sell its product on the Bulgarian market after Bulgarian authorities refused the company’s application to sell food supplements in Bulgaria, although those food supplements are lawfully marketed in Greece.

According to the Commission’s opinion, the Bulgarian authorities did not apply correctly the principle of mutual recognition, the statement said. It said that the mechanism would help create good practices regarding the application of mutual recognition, but did not give further details on whether Bulgaria was given specific guidelines to apply in the Greek company’s case.

(European Commission headquarters Berlaymont building. Photo: JLogan)

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