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EU Single Market for data is a precondition for Industrie 4.0


10 Jan 2017


Innovation & Enterprise

Brussels / Frankfurt, 10 January 2017 - The free exchange of data within the European Single Market is an essential precondition for the success of Industrie 4.0. The latest proposal by the European Commission for a European legal framework for data traffic is a step in the right direction. In VDMA’s view, the EU’s communication of 10 January 2017 avoids hasty regulation and addresses the needs of small and medium-sized industrial firms.

“A European Single Market for data would remove a key barrier to Industrie 4.0,” says Thilo Brodtmann, Executive Director of VDMA. “Machines are going to produce more and more data in future, and companies across Europe will need common rules governing how it is shared. It is important that the Commission understands that not all data is equal. In some cases, it might be justified to make it easier for startups to access information about weather or traffic conditions for example, making new business models possible. In an industrial context, however, machine data also contains trade secrets that have to stay protected.”

A further key point in the Commission’s communication, in VDMA’s view, is the question of liability for damages caused by autonomous systems and machines. The association warns against premature political intervention in this area.

“The Commission should wait to see which actual risks will ultimately arise through the use of autonomous systems,” notes Brodtmann. “If the policy-makers impose too many obligations on companies right at this stage, it will stifle their willingness to develop new technologies. Of course there is merit in beginning this debate early, given the increasing complexity of digital processes, but as long as there are no gaps in the legislation and companies can settle questions of liability of autonomous systems among themselves, we don’t need the EU to step in.” 


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