Meld. St. 22 (2020–2021)

Data as a resource— Meld. St. 22 (2020–2021) Report to the Storting (white paper)

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3 International cooperation

One of the Government’s key priorities in its national IT policy is that Norway should be an integrated part of, and active participant in, the European Digital Single Market. National priorities in IT policy are largely affected by international trends. Norway’s efforts are particularly directed at the EU, the OECD and the Nordic-Baltic cooperation. Developments in the EU have significance for Norway because several regulations and directives are incorporated into Norwegian law via the EEA Agreement. It is therefore important that digitalisation efforts in Norway align with EU solutions and strategies in key areas. Norway must exert its influence and contribute to ensuring that developments in the EU move in a direction that benefits Norwegian business and industry. The Government will prioritise this in cooperation with the other Nordic countries.

3.1 Nordic cooperation

Nordic cooperation is one of the world’s most extensive regional cooperation fora. The cooperation includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. The Nordic countries share many of the same characteristics and are highly advanced in terms of availability and use of digital services. It is therefore natural for them to cooperate and learn from each other. In August 2019 the Nordic prime ministers adopted the common vision The Nordic Region – towards being the most sustainable and integrated region in the world. Digitalisation is a key component in realising this vision.

The Nordic Council of Ministers is an important arena of Nordic cooperation. Under the Norwegian presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2017, a common Nordic-Baltic ministerial declaration on digitalisation – Digital North ­– was prepared and adopted. A separate Nordic Council of Ministers for Digitalisation (MR-DIGITAL) was established at the same time. MR-DIGITAL will, among other things, support the exchange and use of digital services across national borders in the region, as well as joint efforts to promote 5G, artificial intelligence and data sharing.

In 2020 the ministerial declaration was revised in Digital North 2.0. The declaration sets out three overriding objectives for the Nordic-Baltic cooperation:

  • increased mobility through a common platform for cross-border digital services

  • green economic growth and development through data-driven innovation and a fair data economy with efficient sharing and reuse of data

  • promote Nordic-Baltic interests in the EU/EEA and globally to achieve a sustainable and inclusive digital transformation in society

Data sharing has been identified as a possible area for Nordic synergies. A Nordic-Baltic working group has therefore been formed to develop common initiatives related to artificial intelligence and data sharing. In 2020 a survey was conducted to identify available datasets from the public sector in the respective Nordic countries. The survey also asked how business and industry could benefit from having access to these types of data at the Nordic level.1 Because many activities in this area are already undertaken by the European Commission, there was a wish to find areas where Nordic efforts could complement EU initiatives.

In connection with strategic Nordic-Baltic cooperation on digitalisation, an important objective has been to support European cooperation on digitalisation and realisation of the Digital Single Market. Reaching agreement on important positions or suggestions to the European Commission in areas of strategic importance for the Nordic region is a concrete example of Nordic cooperation in practice.

3.2 The OECD’s work on data sharing

For several years now, both the EU and the OECD have emphasised the growing importance of data as a basis for further development of the digital economy. The OECD’s cross-cutting project, Enhancing Access to and Sharing of Data, has particularly contributed to drawing attention to data as a resource and a basis for value creation, particularly in the context of developments in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The OECD emphasises that the growing number of datasets from sensors and other data sources, along with increasing use of technologies such as artificial intelligence, will make data important for a country’s ability to innovate and compete in the future.

The objective for Enhancing Access to and Sharing of Data is to develop general principles for data sharing. The OECD has already made recommendations concerning public sector information, research data, environmental data and health data, among others. The project receives funding from Norway through the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation and the Ministry of Education and Research. The project published its first report in 2019. The report singles out three challenges that need to be addressed in order to realise the benefits from the data economy2:

  • The benefits of data sharing must be weighed against any risks associated with data protection, competition and national security.

  • Stakeholders must be willing to cooperate on finding solutions for data sharing that do not conflict with their own business interests. This can prove complicated and resource-intensive.

  • Incentive mechanisms that reduce uncertainties around data ownership and usage rights must be put in place.

The report reviews strategies for data sharing from 37 countries. The review shows that most countries still have strategies that focus on making public sector data available, and that only a few of them focus on sharing data across the private sector.

3.3 EU data policy

The EU is Norway’s most important trading partner, and Norway already cooperates with the EU in several important areas. The measures the EU implements in the Digital Single Market, including the data market, have direct consequences for Norway and for Norwegian business and industry. EU cooperation is also important because it carries weight in negotiations with third countries and multinational corporations. Therefore, one of the Government’s key priorities in its national IT policy is that Norway should be an integrated part of, and active participant in, the EU’s Digital Single Market.

In February 2020 the European Commission published its digital strategy: Shaping Europe’s digital future. At the same time, the Commission published White paper on artificial intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust and A European strategy for data.

In its data strategy the European Commission refers to data as the lifeblood of economic development. The strategy established that data represent an essential resource for start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as for the development of artificial intelligence. Europe wants to international leadership in the data-driven economy. The European data economy must be founded on common rules that safeguard the European Union’s fundamental values, respect for privacy and human rights, and a vision that the human being is and should remain at the centre.

Personal data as well as commercially sensitive information should be adequately protected, and businesses should have easy access to high-quality industrial data. The strategy sets out four pillars for achieving this objective. The EU will

  • establish cross-sectoral governance framework for data access and use

  • strengthen capacity and infrastructure

  • strengthen the skills of citizens and small and medium-sized enterprises

  • establish common European data spaces in strategic sectors and domains of public interest

3.3.1 Common European data spaces

An important task in realising the objectives of the data strategy is the establishment of a framework for nine European data spaces in key sectors. These are: health, industry and manufacturing, agriculture, banking and finance, mobility, European Green Deal, energy, public administration, and skills; see figure 3.1. The framework for the data spaces will comprise standards, tools, and infrastructure for storing, processing and sharing data both within and between EU member states. The framework should also give data managers and users the rights, tools and skills to have control of their own data.

Figure 3.1 The EU’s common European data spaces and related frameworks and policy areas

Figure 3.1 The EU’s common European data spaces and related frameworks and policy areas

Source European Commission

3.3.2 Legislative development and regulatory frameworks for data policy

Open Data Directive

An important body of rules for the data-driven economy comprises what are referred to as the Reuse Directive and the PSI Directive (Public Sector Information Directive).3 The directives set out how public sector should share data which can be used to create value. In 2019 these directives were replaced by a new directive on open data and reuse of public sector information, known as the Open Data Directive (ODD).4 The purpose of the amendments in the directive is to make public sector information more widely available free of charge or at marginal cost. The directive defines six thematic categories where use of public sector information has major benefits for the economy and society, known as ‘high-value datasets’; see Figure 3.2 The work on identifying which datasets should be included in this category is currently being conducted in the EU/EEA, and Norway is participating in this work.

The EU’s PSI Directive was incorporated into Norwegian law through the Freedom of Information Act. Norway and the other EEA/EFTA states are considering whether to incorporate the new Open Data Directive into the EEA Agreement and if so, how.

Figure 3.2 The EU’s six thematic categories where datasets have high value for society

Figure 3.2 The EU’s six thematic categories where datasets have high value for society

Source European Commission

The regulation on the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union

An important barrier to a Digital Single Market and a data-driven economy in the EU is the lack of data mobility. In 2018 the EU adopted a regulation introducing the principle of the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union, the FFD Regulation.5 The purpose of the regulation is to remove national requirements to locate data in specific geographic areas. Together with the General Data Protection Regulation6, the FFD Regulation creates a legal framework to ensure the free flow of data throughout the EU/EEA area. An exception applies to data concerning public security. The regulation is being considered by the EFTA states, and the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation is working on its implementation in Norway.

Data Governance Act

In November 2020 the European Commission announced its proposal for a regulation on European data governance, the Data Governance Act.7 The regulation has a number of objectives:

  • The regulation will support establishment of the nine common European data spaces.

  • The regulation will set requirements on the reuse of data from the public sector where third-party rights are involved (for example, intellectual property rights, trade secrets and personal data). When public agencies share such data, anonymity and confidentiality shall be maintained, and the conditions for sharing shall be based on non-discriminatory, proportionate and objectively justified conditions. No duty is imposed on public agencies to share these types of data. It shall be easier for individuals to voluntarily share their own data for the benefit of society (referred to as ‘data altruism’) while ensuring data protection.

  • The regulation contains rules on ‘neutral data intermediaries’ which shall act as trusted providers of data-sharing services between individuals and companies. The intermediaries shall help make it easier and safer for private companies and individuals to voluntarily make their data available to the general public under regulated conditions.8 The data intermediaries must meet certain requirements: they must be neutral with respect to data that are shared, they must ensure compliance with national competition rules, and they must ensure that individuals’ rights under the General Data Protection Regulation are safeguarded.

Furthermore, a board or expert group on data-driven innovation (Data Innovation Board) shall be created to provide advisory support to the European Commission.

The regulation is planned for adoption in the fourth quarter of 2021, with a 12-month implementation period. Norway will be affected by the proposal, and the Government will follow up and promote Norwegian interests in the further process in the EU.

EU framework for health data

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Commission has highlighted health as a priority area for developing a European common data area: the European Health Data Space. The Commission has announced that it will present a proposal for a directive in October 2021. The Council of Europe has asked the Commission to give priority to developments in this area. In February 2021 a two-year joint action commenced in which member states will prepare a proposal for a framework for the health data space. They will assess whether there is scope for further harmonisation of GDPR, technical and semantic standards, principles for architecture and infrastructure and guidelines on data altruism. They will also consider testing the exchange of data between different national platforms by national health authorities wherever these are established (health data permit authorities). Norway is participating in several projects in this initiative.

Intelligent Transport Systems Directive

Development and implementation of intelligent transport systems (ITS) is an important contribution towards achieving transport policy objectives, and a directive dealing specifically with ITS was adopted in the EU in 2010.9 The directive was incorporated into the EEA Agreement on 30 September 2011.

The ITS Directive outlines a framework for the deployment of ITS in Europe, defines processes and gives the European Commission the authority to develop specifications and standards to ensure compatibility, interoperability and continuity for ITS across borders between the EU member states. Article 2 of the ITS Directive specifies the areas to which EU has given priority for developing specifications and standards:

  • optimal use of road, traffic and travel data

  • continuity of traffic and freight management ITS services

  • ITS road safety and security applications

  • linking the vehicle with the transport infrastructure

The European Commission began work on revising the directive in the autumn of 2020.

INSPIRE Directive

INSPIRE10 is the EU’s initiative to establish a central access point to maps and geographical information. The directive sets requirements for data sharing and technical requirements for documentation and interoperability. The directive covers data on addresses, geographic names, properties, heights and depths, lakes and rivers, transport networks, energy sources, utilities and government services, and a long list of themes relevant to environmental policy. The data shall be available for search, viewing and download via standard electronic services. The directive has been implemented in Norwegian law through the Spatial Data Act.11

Data Act

The next legislative measure planned by the European Commission to follow up the EU data strategy is the Data Act, which is expected in the third quarter of 2021. In its work on the regulation, the European Commission will

  • foster the sharing of data that are of public interest from the private sector to the public sector

  • foster data sharing within the private sector, in particular addressing issues related to usage rights for co-generated data and that are typically set out in private contracts

  • identify and address any undue existing hurdles hindering data sharing

  • clarify rules for the responsible use of data, such as legal liability

  • facilitate voluntary data sharing as a general principle; data sharing should only be made compulsory under specific circumstances

  • evaluate the intellectual property rights framework in order to enhance data sharing

The European Commission will also announce a separate implementation regulation on high-value datasets in 2021, under the Open Data Directive.

Many of the challenges posed by the data economy must be resolved through international cooperation. The Government will therefore engage in international cooperation and participate actively in developing common European legislation on data.

3.3.3 The connection between EU data policy and the European Green Deal

According to the European Commission, increased digitalisation and better use of data are important for increased competitiveness, the green shift and growth in Europe. The European Green Deal is the EU’s follow-up of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, which also provide direction for Norwegian policy.

The European Commission’s follow-up of the European Green Deal has direct and indirect links with the Commission’s digital and data policies. The strategy sets out three overarching goals for Europe’s digital development to benefit both people and the environment, align with the European Union’s social values, and advance the plan of the European Green Deal for a sustainable, climate-neutral and resource-efficient economy. Digitalisation and use of new technologies, including better use of data, will be essential for achieving the aim of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.

A separate data space will be established for the European Green Deal under the new data strategy; see Figure 3.3. The data space will unlock the potential of data that support the EU climate policy objectives. These include transitioning to a circular economy, the zero-emissions vision, protection of biodiversity, reduced deforestation, and control over the implementation of measures.

Figure 3.3 The connection between EU data policy, data strategy and the European Green Deal

Figure 3.3 The connection between EU data policy, data strategy and the European Green Deal

Source European Commission

Climate reporting has attracted increasing attention in the private sector in recent years, and the EU’s work on sustainable finance to channel capital towards sustainable investments is a key driver in this respect. If businesses are to become more sustainable, it is important that they can track direct and indirect emissions in the value chain, meaning at every step in the production process, from raw materials to finished goods. Increased digitalisation and better use of data can also make it easier for businesses and public sector procurers to require their suppliers to submit documentation proving that their products are low-carbon and sustainable. The EU has announced plans to develop a digital product passport to make it easier for consumers to find information on a product’s contents, life cycle, repairability and recyclability.

In early 2021 the Government presented its white paper on climate.12 The white paper presents targets and measures for how the Government intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 2021 and 2030. Better use of technology and climate-related data in ways that provide deeper insights into environmental impacts are important for identifying measures to reduce the carbon footprint. The Government has also presented a white paper on the UN sustainable development goals.13

The Government will align the national IT and data policies in a way that helps Norway achieve its climate and environment targets and its sustainable development goals by 2030.

3.4 The Government will

The Government will

  • enable the national IT and data polices to contribute to green transformation and private sector growth, and help Norway achieve its sustainable development targets and its climate and environment targets

  • influence the development of international legislation that is relevant to the development of the data economy

  • implement the regulation on the free flow of non-personal data in the EU

  • prepare implementation of the Open Data Directive

  • follow up and promote Norwegian interests in the further legislative process for the EU’s proposed Data Governance Act



Nordic Council of Ministers (2020): Nordic cooperation on data to boost the development of solutions with artificial intelligence


OECD (2019): Enhancing Access to and Sharing of Data: Reconciling Risks and Benefits for Data Re-use across Societies


Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information and Directive 2013/37/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 amending Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information


Directive (EU) 2019/1024 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on open data and the re-use of public sector information (recast)


Regulation (EU) 2018/1807 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 on a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union


Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council (GDPR) was incorporated into Norwegian law in the Personal Data Act of 2018 (LOV-2018-06-15-38)


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on European data governance (Data Governance Act) COM/2020/767 final


These are referred to as ‘recognised data altruism organisations’ in the European Commission’s proposal


Directive 2010/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on the framework for the deployment of intelligent transport systems in the field of road transport and for interfaces with other modes of transport


Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE)


Act on an infrastructure for geographical information (Spatial Data Act) LOV-2010-09-03-56


Meld. St. 13 (2020–2021) Klimaplan for 2021–2030 [Climate plan for 2021–2030]


Meld. St. 40 (2020–2021) Mål med mening – Norges handlingsplan for å nå bærekraftsmålene innen 2030 [Norway’s action plan to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030]

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