On 10 October 2012, the President of LIBER was invited to address MEPs in the European Parliament, as one of five panel speakers on the issue of Open Data. The Parliament, Commission and Council are in the process of approving the €80 billion Horizon 2020 work programme and budget. The meeting was oversubscribed, with attenders left standing around the room to find space to listen to the 90-minute debate.
I was present both as President of LIBER and as representing LERU (League of European Research Universities). There was general agreement that Open Data was a public good in many fields – such as biomedical research, or astronomical research. In the areas of applied research, however, both MEPs and industry have real concerns that Europe risked losing a competitive advantage by making research data available as Open Data. As a result, industry would be less likely to co-fund research with universities or the Commission/European Research Council in future. The answer LIBER and LERU proposed was to support the Commission's plan for a research data pilot as part of the Horizon 2020 programme of work, to test and identify where the dividing line falls between research data which is a clear public good, and data from areas of applied research which may have commerical or data protection issues.
The meeting was organised by MEP Carvalho, who has organised a number of Open Scholarship meetings in Brussels in recent weeks as MEPs vote on the future directions of the Commission's ambitious Horizon 2020 programme.