- Who must comply
- What data is covered by the Directive.
- Source of possible exceptions to some of the articles/principles.
- Timing of Directive implementation.
- INSPIRE interoperability.
- Impact of INSPIRE on existing data exchange/interoperability conventions/programmes/initiatives.
Who must comply
The INSPIRE Directive applies to all “public authorities”, defined in Article 3 (para 9) as: “public authority” means:
(a) any government or other public administration, including public advisory bodies, at *national, regional or local level*; (b) any natural or legal person performing public administrative functions under national law, including specific duties, activities or services in relation to the environment; and (c) any natural or legal person having public responsibilities or functions, or providing public services relating to the environment under the control of a body or person falling within (a) or (b). Member States may provide that when bodies or institutions are acting in a judicial or legislative capacity, they are not to be regarded as a public authority for the purposes of this Directive;"
What data is covered by the Directive.
The Directive applies to spatial datasets that are in “electronic format”, but does not require the collection of any new datasets. However, the actions regarding creation of metadata and wide publication by electronic means does apply to all existing datasets that are considered to be “spatial”, officially defined in the Directive as “any data with a direct or indirect reference to a specific location or geographical area;”.
Source of possible exceptions to some of the articles/principles.
Intellectual property rights of third parties will be respected, i.e. if a government agency or external contractor acting for a government agency holds copyright of IP rights under the EU’s database protection Directive (as implemented in law in all EU Member States), then the terms of the Directive on access, exploitation, etc. cannot be used to undermine those rights. The long and short of it is that, for example, a national mapping agency or census bureau or … who now claims copyright or database protection rights on its datasets and charges for their access and use, can continue to do so, even though the spirit and general principle of the Directive is to make as widely available as possible any and all public geospatial data, at minimal or (preferrably) mo cost, other than cost of distribution. This is in line with the already existing Directive on re-use (including commercial exploitation) of Public Sector Information – which also applies to any PSI that is geospatial. It is important that this latter re-use of PSI Directive be read and understood in parallel to the INSPIRE Directive. (I attach a copy of the PSI Directive to this e-mail for your reference).
Timing of Directive implementation.
Article 5 requires EU Member States to create metadata for all their spatial data holdings, and that this metadata must then be ‘maintained’. The metadata will be created according to implementing rules, which are now being specified by 5 Drafting Teams (all volunteer experts) under guidance of DG Joint Research Center, Ispra, Italy. EU Member States must adopt “implementing rules” within one year of adoption of the Directive. Since we expect the Directive to be officially adopted on 17 February 2007, that means the rules must be adopted by February 2008. Today, in mid-January 2007, no Drafting Team has yet published any ‘rules’ for public comment and we are led to believe that much work remains to be done in completing these ‘implementing rules’ and getting agreement on them from the relevant committee(s).
Article 6 then states that the metadata must be created and available within two years following adoption, i.e. not later than February 2010, for Annex I and II data (see attached Annex list) and not later than 5 years, i.e. by February 2013, for Annex III data. Annex I and II cover 13 data themes for ‘core’ data while Annex III covers an additional 21 data themes in a wide range of thematic areas, e.g. statists, environment, land use, various types of ‘facilities’ from across a wide range of sectors, atmospheric, meteorological and oceanographic/sea regions data, etc.
Article 9 then (confusingly, to me, that is!) states that: “The implementing rules provided for in Article 7(1) shall be adopted in accordance with the following timetable:
(a) no later than ? [Two years following the date of entry into force of this Directive.] in the case of the spatial data sets corresponding to the themes listed in Annex I; (b) no later than ? [Five years following the date of entry into force of this Directive.] in the case of the spatial data sets corresponding to the themes listed in Annex II or III." <ends>
I interpret this to mean that the implementing rules relating to metadata (the focus of Article 5) must be adopted within one year of Directive adoption, i.e. by February 2008 while the implementing rules regarding spatial data specifications to enhance and ensure transnational interoperability (the focus of Articles 7, 8, 9 and 10) must be adopted within 2 and 5 years of Directive adoption for Annex 1 and 2 data and Annex 3 data, respectively.
As regards the concept of aligning the INSPIRE SDI technical work with initiatives in Africa (and other non-EU regions of the world), i.e. developing a global framework, Article 8 states:
"2. The implementing rules shall address the following aspects of spatial data: (a) a common framework for the unique identification of spatial objects, to which identifiers under national systems can be mapped in order to ensure interoperability between them; (b) the relationship between spatial objects; (c) the key attributes and the corresponding multilingual thesauri commonly required for policies which may have an impact on the environment; (d) information on the temporal dimension of the data; (e) updates of the data. 3. The implementing rules shall be designed to ensure consistency between items of information which refer to the same location or between items of information which refer to the same object represented at different scales. 4. The implementing rules shall be designed to ensure that information derived from different spatial data sets is comparable as regards the aspects referred to in Article 7(4) and in paragraph 2 of this Article."
Impact of INSPIRE on existing data exchange/interoperability conventions/programmes/initiatives.
For those international communities who have existing, pre-established regimes for data exchange and interoperability, for example several of the biodiversity, meteorological and oceanographic community global programmes, enacted under internatonal conventions, Article 7 includes:
“Where organisations established under international law have adopted relevant standards to ensure interoperability or harmonisation of spatial data sets and services, these standards shall be integrated, and the existing technical means shall be referred to, if appropriate, in the implementing rules mentioned in this paragraph.”
What this text means by “these standards shall be integrated” will probably be a matter of much debate – and potential dispute – in the years ahead.