European Commission steps up efforts to boost free flow of data

European Commission proposes a series of measures to increase availability of data within the EU and boost healthcare data sharing.


The European Commission (EC) has today put forward a set of measures to increase the availability of data in the EU, building on previous initiatives to boost the free flow of ‘non-personal data’ in the Digital Single Market.

Today's proposals, which build on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which enters into application on 25 May 2018, will focus on securing citizens' healthcare data while fostering European co-operation.

The measures set out a plan of action “that puts citizens first when it comes to data on citizens' health”, by securing citizens' access to their health data and introducing the possibility to share their data across borders.

Using data more effectively

The plans will enable the use of larger data sets to allow for more personalised diagnoses and medical treatment, and to better anticipate epidemics, they say; they will also promote appropriate digital tools and enable public authorities to better use health data for research and for health system reforms.

In an accompanying press release, the Commission said that data-driven innovation was a key enabler not only of market growth but for job creation (particularly for SMEs and start-ups) and the development of new technologies.

It enabled citizens to easily access and manage their health data, and public authorities to use data better in research, prevention and health system reforms, they said.

"The Digital Single Market is rapidly taking shape; but without data, we will not make the most of artificial intelligence, high-performance computing and other technological advances,” said Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip.

“These technologies can help us to improve healthcare and education, transport networks and make energy savings: this is what the smart use of data is all about," he added. 

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said:

“Our proposals make use of the full potential of digital technologies to improve healthcare and medical research. This will lead to easier access to health data, which will lead to better disease prevention and patient-centred care, rapid responses to pandemic threats, and improved treatments.”

Today's initiatives complement the framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the EU presented by the Commission in September 2017,  which still needs to be agreed by the European Parliament and Member States.

Find out more on the EC website here.

Related information:

Communication 'Digital Transformation of Health and Care in the Digital Single Market'

Tonya Stewart

Related News


German hospital partners on data sharing project

Dr Lennart Jahnke, CDO at Germany's University Medicine Mannheim, talks about a partnership with Siemens to give patients greater access to...

Facebook presses ‘pause’ on medical data sharing plan

Facebook halts plans to combine patient data from US hospitals with information on them from their social networking activity

HIMSS Europe & Health 2.0 Conference: Big Dreams Meet Real Challenges

Artur Olesch takes a look at some of the conclusions following the HIMSS Europe & Health 2.0 annual conference