Data Act: European Mobility Still Needs Sector-Speciﬁc Rules
In order for the Data Act to deploy its full potential of fostering consumer choice and data-driven innovation in the wider mobility sector, the Association of Independent Wholesalers of Automotive Replacement Parts emphasises that sector-specific rules for access to in-vehicle data should be proposed by the Commission this year, in order for the legislative discussions to start and adopt rules as soon as possible.
At the end of June, under the impulse of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, an agreement on the Data Act was reached in trilogues by the European Parliament, Council, and Commission, laying down harmonised rules on access to and the use of data for connected products in the EU.
The Data Act, in essence, establishes the right of private and business users to access the data stream from their connected products and the right to share these data with third parties of their choice. It thereby intends to enable data-driven innovation and competition in the provision of aftermarket and ancillary services. It is one of the EU’s pieces of legislation aiming to create a competitive European Data Economy.
FIGIEFA, the voice of European Independent Automotive Parts Distributors, believes that the Data Act is an important first step that has been taken. Once finalised and in force, it will establish a baseline of important general principles. That being said, as a horizontal regulation applying across all industry sectors, the Data Act will not be enough in itself to create a rich choice of vehicle-generated, data-driven connected services in Europe. Given the specifics of the automotive aftermarket and the mobility services ecosystem, FIGIEFA is of the firm conviction that in order to be fully effective for our industry, sector-specific rules are required.
For the Data Act to deploy its full potential, service providers need to be able to develop their technical solutions and services in advance of the user granting access to their data. In other words: without services which were developed in the first place, the concrete data stream deriving from the Data Act users would not find a recipient.
For this reason, it is imperative to complement the Data Act with sector-specific legislation under Vehicle Type-Approval. A dedicated piece of legislation on ‘access to in-vehicle data, functions & resources’”, under the responsibility of Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, is in the pipeline and expected to be issued in Q3 this year.
FIGIEFA emphasises that it is most important to address the particular systemic barriers and structural impediments experienced by independent market operators in the automotive and mobility services sector. It is crucial to extend the access rights beyond ‘data’ to include ‘vehicle functions and resources’, including the bilateral communication with the driver via the Human-Machine Interface. These functions are essential to the provision of many aftermarket and mobility services. Given the technical complexity, also safety and (cyber)security specific roles and responsibilities of all involved operators need to be defined.
Even the Data Act itself acknowledges that, to unlock the rich potential for data-driven services in the automotive sector, full and fair access to vehicle-generated data, functions and resources for all market players and the means to use that data in practice are needed.
FIGIEFA therefore reiterates once more the urgency of publishing this sector-specific proposal at the latest by Q3 this year to secure a level playing field that would ensure a digital mobility ecosystem fit for the next decade with effective competition and innovative services at competitive prices for European consumers.