Data and its economic impact permeates all sectors of the economy. The data economy
is not a new sector, but more like a challenge for all firms to compete and innovate as
part of a new wave of economic value creation.
Our report findings are contrary to the typically held view—we find that data access is
not the main challenge to a thriving data economy in Europe. A much more pressing
challenge is the lack of a common “data language” that can facilitate data exchanges. A
common data language would help to transfer data from one context to another to
create datasets that are usable by other firms. So-called “reference architectures”
provide exactly this common language.
Policymakers across Europe should promote the development and adoption of such
reference architectures as a way to increase the quantity and quality of data exchange
through data sharing and data pooling between firms. Obligations to share data are
found to be of limited benefit and can even prove detrimental, especially without the
underlying reference architectures in place.

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