Open Letter

An Open Letter regarding the INSPIRE Directive (PDF, 600K) was sent to MEPs on the ENVI Committee on the 15th of March, 2006. The letter includes two appendices, one with references to studies illustrating the benefits of open access to geodata policy (seen in the Arguments), the other offering an Analysis Of Second Reading Amendments. Below we reproduce the text of the letter itself.

If you would like to add your signature to this letter either in your own capacity or representing an organisation please either edit this page directly or email: jo dot walsh [at]

Please also sign the petition if you haven’t already.

The Open Letter

Dear ENVI Committee members,

We are writing to convey our 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.

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.

Jo Walsh, Public Geodata representing 1900 supporters on this issue

Rufus Pollock, Open Knowledge Foundation

Markus Neteler, on behalf of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation

Suw Charman, Open Rights Group

Stefan Magdalinski, Founder,

Sven Neuhaus at Heise Online

Paul Waite, just a chap

Paolo Cavallini, Emilia Venturato, Daniele Scarselli, Walter Lorenzetti, Riccardo Petrini, Leonardo Lami, Carlotta Canova, Faunalia

Stefano Costa,