At Europe’s biggest digital technology event ICT 2013, Vice President of the European Commission Responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, made a speech despairing that Europe is lagging behind the rest of the world in taking advantage of opportunities presented by big data. Kroes recognised it would be beneficial to “put the data together…the value of the whole is far more than the sum of its parts… to create a coherent data ecosystem.”

The speech highlights that plans under new EU data protection legislation will ensure more public data is shared, and this will be supported by the creation of a new pan-European open data portal. To support this vision, Kroes pleads for a big data partnership to be formed between public and private-sector organisations, adding “a European public-private partnership in big data could unite all the players who matter.”

Kroes is quick to point out that the benefits of big data do not have to come at the cost of privacy. She comments, “for data that does concern people, we need firm and modern data protection rules that safeguard this fundamental right…we need digital tools that help people take control of their data so that they can be confident to trust this technology.”

Overall, the EU Commissioner proposes Big Data can become a fashionable slogan – “a recipe for a competitive Europe.”