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Background to the Green paper on Public Sector information

Input from industry and the Legal Advisory Board

The launch of the Green Paper on Public Sector information is an important step in focussing attention of all actors concerned in governement, industry and citizens' rights groups on the issues raised.

The potential importance of public sector information as a resource first attracted the Commission's attention in the mid 1980s. It started a consultation process with public and private sector information providers' and users' representatives in the context of the IMPACT programme for creating a Community information market and in response to a need perceived by the information industry. These initiatives resulted in a set of 19 guidelines for 'Improving the Synergy between the Public and Private Sectors in the Information Market'.

However, subsequent studies proved that the impact of these guidelines was rather disappointing. In most Member States the guidelines seem to have had little, if any, impact. In 1995, aworkshop was organised on 26 and 27 June with government and industry participants at which the preliminary results of the PUBLAW 3 and Tilburg and Leiden Universities were presented.

The Legal Advisory Board (LAB) has given valuable input into the process from the beginning. Following earlier meetings, it held a meeting on Commercial and citizens' access to publicly-held information on 20 September 1995. The Commission organised a meeting in Stockholm on June 27 and 28, 1996, at which a large number of participants discussed various issues related to this Green Paper. Participants expressed their consensus on the actions undertaken so far. The LAB returned to the subject at its meeting on 25 November 1998 Minutes, and will present a Reply to the Green Paper.

The Green Paper has been the subject of detailed discussions to ensure that it set out the issues clearly and asked the right questions.

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