Today the Data Act, one of the key digital files of the current legislative term, enters into force. Here is an overview of the final text and the next steps in terms of implementation and enforcement.
Data Act highlights
The Data Act, initially proposed in 2022 as part of the Commission’s European Data Strategy, is designed to enhance the EU’s data economy. Its objectives include unlocking unexploited data, optimising its accessibility and use, and fostering a competitive and reliable European cloud market.
Obligations for manufacturers and services providers
The Data Act sets out two main obligations for manufacturers and service providers: to allow users of connected devices to access the data generated by products and related services, and to share such data with third parties.
Measures for public authorities to access and use data held by the private sector
The Act provides measures for public authorities to access and utilise data held by the private sector in specific scenarios. Firstly, in cases of public emergencies, such as floods and wildfires. Secondly, when public authorities must implement a legal mandate, but the required data is not readily available through other means.
Unfair contractual clauses
To protect companies, specifically SMEs, from unfair contractual terms, the Data Act introduces a list of contractual clauses that will be deemed or presumed to be unfair, an unfairness test and model contractual clauses.
The Data Act includes a chapter on cloud switching which sets measures to allow customers to easily switch between various cloud and edge computing service providers, promoting further competition and choice in the cloud and data processing market while preventing vendor lock-in.
International transfers and interoperability
Further measures introduce mandatory safeguards against unlawful data transfers to non-EU countries, and a new framework of interoperability standards for data processing and sharing, enabling data pooling from different sectors.
What has changed in the final text?
The scope of the final text has been clarified, providing more details on the type of data covered by each chapter. Further measures have been introduced to protect trade secrets – one of the key challenges during the negotiations. To further protect data holders, the concept of exceptional need for G2B data access was clarified and further requirements to public sector bodies when requesting access to data were introduced.
The Data Act will apply from September 12, 2025, with derogations for the obligation to make product data and related service data accessible to the user (from September 12, 2026) and unfair contractual terms in contracts concluded on or before September 12, 2025 (from September 12, 2027).
Implementation and enforcement
Like other digital files adopted in this term (DSA, DMA to name a few), several relevant aspects are left to secondary legislation. The Commission, through implementing acts, will adopt common specifications on interoperability of data, data sharing mechanisms and services, as well as common European data spaces, data processing services, and smart contracts. The Commission will also adopt delegated acts to establish a monitoring mechanism for cloud switching charges. For B2B data sharing, the Commission will adopt guidelines on the calculation of reasonable compensation, taking into account the advice of the European Data Innovation Board (EDIB).
To guarantee the application and enforcement of the Regulation, Member States will have to designate one or more competent authorities. Member States will also have to designate a data coordinator to facilitate cooperation in case more authorities are designated. The Authority will be tasked to promote awareness of the rights and obligations under the Data Act, to conduct investigations on the application of the Data Act, and to impose fines when violations are found.
The European Data Innovation Board (EDIB) established by the Data Governance Act will facilitate cooperation between competent authorities and advise the Commission in the implementation of the Data Act.