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(Reuters) — The European Union wants to create a single data market aimed at challenging the dominance of tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon, according to a European Commission proposal seen by Reuters.

The proposal, which includes reining in big online platforms and which could still be tweaked ahead of a presentation on February 19, underlines the EU’s determination to break U.S. tech giants’ stranglehold on vast troves of data and help European companies better compete with Chinese rivals.

“Currently a small number of big tech firms hold a large part of the world’s data. This is a major weakness for data-driven businesses to emerge, grow, and innovate today, including in Europe, but huge opportunities lie ahead,” a paper laying out the proposal said.

The 25-page document also underlined the urgency of the task ahead.


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“Competitors such as China and the U.S. are already innovating quickly and projecting their concepts of data access and use across the globe,” it said.

By capitalizing on Europe’s vast quantities of industrial and professional data and technological innovation, the bloc can surge ahead, the document said.

“The winners of today will not necessarily be the winners of tomorrow,” the paper stated.

It said the objective is “to create a single European data space, a genuine single market for data.”

Measures to achieve that goal include an array of new rules covering cross-border data use, data interoperability, and standards related to manufacturing, climate change, the auto industry, health care, financial services, agriculture, and energy.

Other rules in the coming months will open up more public data on geospatial areas, the environment, meteorology, statistics, and companies’ data across the bloc for others to use for free.

The document also proposed scrapping relevant competition rules that hinder data sharing and possibly introducing rules to prevent large online platforms from unilaterally imposing conditions for access and use of data or benefiting in a disproportionate manner.

The European Commission and an expert group set up last year to assist it are now looking into the vast amount of data collected by big tech companies and the way they use and share the data.

“On the basis of this fact-finding, the Commission will consider how best to address more systemic issues, including by ex ante regulation if appropriate, to ensure that markets stay open and fair,” the paper said.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Tom Brown.)

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