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The Data Act must not become a Drama Act for the industry


07 Feb 2023


Innovation & Enterprise

Brussels/Frankfurt, 6 February 2023 - Commenting on the planned vote on the EU Data Act in the European Parliament's Industry Committee (ITRE), Hartmut Rauen, Deputy Executive Director of VDMA, says:

"The Data Act and its overarching rules for data exchange will have a clear impact on the business models of companies in the mechanical and plant engineering sector and their customers. The EU's goal of promoting the use of data is good. However, as usual, the devil is in the details. The specific requirements of the Data Act pose significant risks for the digitization of industry and for Europe as an industrial location. Therefore, VDMA urges the EU Parliament not to intervene in business relationships without good reason and to provide for entrepreneurial freedom in the Data Act. For companies it is  absolutely necessary to freely exchange data. The Data Act must not become a Drama Act for industry!

It is a central design flaw of the Data Act that no proper distinction is made between business relationships between companies and consumers (B2C: "Business to Customers") and between industrial companies (B2B: "Business to Business"). However, this fundamental distinction is elementary. After all, in a B2B relationship, no consumer needs to be protected. Companies meet each other at eye level and can freely exchange data in a way that is satisfactory for both sides. The wide variety of sector- and customer-specific situations in industrial value chains in particular need this freedom of design.

The Data Act largely restricts this freedom to operate in a market economy and thus poses a high risk for new and existing data-based business models. For example, rigid content control for contractual arrangements will tend to lead to inflexibility and legal uncertainty, especially in the international business environment. This risk also affects multilateral, demand-driven data governance models such as those emerging under industry-driven initiatives, such as Manufacturing-X.

The digitization of industry must be driven forward at great speed. For this, industrial companies primarily need freedom to operate and legal certainty. Anything else would be a high-risk industrial policy experiment with an uncertain outcome for the competitiveness of Europe as a business location."


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