Access to EU company data is very poor, Neelie

Two months ago, OpenCorporates published our ground-breaking report on access to company data in Open Government Partnership countries. The results were not good, with an average score of just 21 out of 100.

Following this, Neelie Kroes, the EU Vice-President in charge the Digital Agenda, including open data, tweeted about the report, noting that the 15 EU countries in the OGP didn’t give open access to company data, and wondering how the others performed.

Well, Commissioner Kroes, we’ve answered that question, scoring all 27 EU countries on access to company data, just in time for the EU Digital Agenda Assembly, tomorrow in Brussels. And the results are not good.

But not have only have we published a report similar to the one for Open Government Partnership countries, we’ve also investigated the the particular European-level barriers to that block or hinder access.

The report finds:

  • Access to company data in EU countries is very poor, with an average score of just 23 out of 100 points. Though this is slightly better than for Open Government Partnership countries, the OGP figure includes several developing countries without even functioning online company registers.
  • Several, including Spain and Austria are completely closed, not even allowing the search for the existence of a company without payment. Others have only the sparsest information shown for free, and Greece has no complete online register.
  • There are several EU directives and projects that positively hinder access to company data, and a recent one, on the connection of company registers, threatens to harden the move towards commercialisation of the registers.
  • The open data concept has barely touched company registers, with only the UK publishing open company data, while Belgium has said it intends to do so to in the future.

It’s worth putting this into context too. In a time of austerity, it’s significant that two of the countries at the heart of the storm are ones where their citizens can’t even begin to understand the corporate sector, and whether it has disproportionately benefited at the expense of the rest of society, as some have suggested.

We’ll be presenting this report at the Digital Agenda Assembly tomorrow, during the data strand, as it fits in neatly with the Assembly’s objectives, to:

  • Assess progress to date on implementation towards the Digital Agenda’s goals and actions and seek ways to improve delivery;
  • Identify challenges ahead for the implementation of the Digital Agenda and for the information society in general;
  • Mobilise stakeholders’ actions to make further progress and address challenges.

Hopefully after the talk, we’ll see some action.

8 thoughts on “Access to EU company data is very poor, Neelie

  1. The data for SLOVENIA is not correct – anyone can perform search for data from the Slovenian Business Register via the so called AJPES portal:
    for free (but needs to register).

    1. See the methodology section. The requirement is that searches should be done without fee or registration.

      1. Then that point of the methodology doesn’t make much sense to me. I even need to give my e-mail address to write this comment, what’s the problem with registering in a website for free?

      2. There’s a substantial difference between the two.

        1) The Company Register is a public register — it’s purpose is (or at least should be) to enable the wide dissemination of the information. Registration restricts this access, and is axiomatically either for the tracking or blocking of usage.
        2) This blog is not a public register, nor even published by a governmental/public entity.
        3) The Company Register is requiring registration for reading the data; this blog is not. We are just requiring an email address for writing to the blog by way of comments.

  2. Once you register at the Slovenian Business E-register, you can obtain for free quite substantial information on the individual company:
    – the basic company information;
    – the names of the directors and the members of the Supervizory board (including their home addresses);
    – the Assembly decisions and the amendments to the Statutes etc
    I think this is substantially more information than having no E-Register and possibly even better than having E-Register but providing just the basic company information although without the need for registration.

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