Brussels, Jul 2004
In an effort to harmonise and improve the geographical information currently available in the EU, the Commission has published proposals for a new directive to establish an infrastructure for spatial information in the European Union (INSPIRE) within ten years.
Currently, geographical information on features such as road networks, land cover, population, administrative boundaries and risk zones is collected by Member States in an uncoordinated fashion, resulting in data gaps and a lack of comparability.
Under the Commission's proposal, EU countries would be required to publish their geographical information on publicly accessible websites, which will themselves be coordinated by the INSPIRE 'geo-portal'.
The Commission believes that the INSPIRE initiative will support environmental protection policies and other EU legislation that relies on consistent geographical data, as well as increasing capacity for rapid reaction to natural disasters.
And according to Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, the proposals will bring other benefits: 'INSPIRE will provide a framework for translating research and development results into operational tools. [...] European research will also benefit from the initiative as INSPIRE will make geographical databases, essential for scientific and environmental investigations, more readily available.'
Before publishing its proposals, the Commission carried out an Internet consultation process with some 1,000 stakeholders, as well as an extended impact assessment exercise.
According to the impact assessment, the Commission predicts that while their preferred option for INSPIRE would cost the public sector in each Member State an average of 3.6 to 5.4 million euro per year, the average annual benefits per country would amount to between and 42 million euro. '[T]he conclusion is that the benefits outweigh the investment requirements by a considerable amount,' states the Commission proposal.
For more information and to read the INSPIRE proposal, please visit: