Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE)

Provisions on the making available of environmental information can also be found in Directive 2007/2/EC establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE)^1 The regulation is premised on the fact that spatial information is needed for the formulation and implementation of the Union’s environmental policy and other EU policies, which must integrate environmental protection requirements. Solving problems regarding, inter alia, availability, quality, and sharing of spatial information requires measures that address exchange, sharing, access, and use of interoperable spatial data and spatial data services across the various levels of public authority and across different sectors.92 Against this backdrop the Directive lays down general rules aimed at the establishment of INSPIRE, for the purposes of EU environmental policies and policies or activities which may have an impact on the environment. INSPIRE is to build upon infrastructures for spatial information established and operated by the Member States. (Art 1.)

By ‘infrastructure for spatial information’ is meant metadata, spatial data sets, and spatial data services; network services and technologies; agreements on sharing, access, and use; and coordination and monitoring mechanisms, processes, and procedures established, operated, or made available in accordance with the Directive. ‘Spatial data’ is any data with a direct or indirect reference to a specific location or geographical area. In order for spatial data sets to be covered by the Directive they must fulfil certain conditions, including being held by or on behalf of a public authority or certain third parties, being in electronic format, and relating to one or more of the themes listed in Annex I, II, or III. The Directive does not require collection of new spatial data. (Arts 3 and 4.)

The Directive’s core requirement is that the Member States shall ensure that metadata are created for the spatial data sets and services corresponding to the themes listed in Annexes I, II, and III, and that those metadata are kept up to date.[1] [2] [3] Among the themes listed are geographical grid systems, transport networks, protected sites, physical and biological cover of the earth’s surface, land use, habitats and biotopes, industrial production sites, and energy resources.

It is not required to generate new spatial data sets and services but only to make available existing data. The metadata shall also include information on, inter alia, any conditions applying to access to, and use of, spatial data sets and services and, where applicable, corresponding fees, as well as on the quality and validity of spatial data sets. (Art 5.)

The Regulation also includes provisions on interoperability of spatial data sets and services (Chapter III), network services (Chapter IV), data-sharing (Chapter V), and coordinating and complementary measures (Chapter VI).

The Directive has an article corresponding to the current Article 192(1) TFEU as its legal basis.

  • [1] Requirements for the creation and maintenance of metadata for spatial data sets, spatial data setseries and spatial data services are set out in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1205/2008 implementing Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards metadata [2008]OJ L 326/12.
  • [2] 94 [2006] OJ L 33/1.
  • [3] Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers to the Convention on Access to Information,Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Kiev, 21May 2003) UN Doc MP.PP/2003/1.
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