Is this a fork in the road for EU company data?

8 years ago, OpenCorporates surveyed access to official company register data in the EU. To our knowledge, this was the first time that this had been done in a systematic way. 

The results were not good. 

Data and access were routinely restricted on a pay-to-play basis. If you had the money, you could access it all as data; otherwise…

A lot has happened since then – it’s become clear just how central data is to all our lives (remember Cambridge Analytica?); inequalities in both wealth and power have sadly grown; and the use of companies for illicit purposes has increased massively.

This then is the context for our new report on access to company data in the EU. It’s completely revised, with more detail on the impact that the lack of access to this critical dataset has – on business, on innovation, on democracy, and society.

The results are still not great however:

  • Average score is low
    The average score across the EU in terms of access to company data is just 40 out of 100. This is better than the average score 8 years ago, which was just 23 out of 100, but still very low nevertheless.

  • Some major economies score badly
    Some of the EU’s major economies continue to score very badly indeed, with Germany, for example, scoring just 15/100, Italy 10/100, and Spain 0/100.

  • EU policies undermined
    The report identifies 15 areas where the lack of open company data frustrates, impedes or otherwise has a negative impact on EU policy.

  • Inequalities widened
    The report also identifies how inequalities are further widened by poor access to this critical dataset, and how the recovery from COVID-19 will be hampered by it too.

On the plus side, the report also identifies the EU Open Data & PSI Directive passed last year as potentially game changing – but only if it is implemented fully, and there are significant doubts whether this will happen.

EU Company Data: State of the Union 2020
Read the full report >

We’ll be blogging more about these findings and their impact in the coming weeks… 

In the meantime, please share the report widely to help make the EU a more transparent, fairer and open place.

OpenCorporates would like to thank The Mohn Westlake Foundation for supporting the development of this report.

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