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The overarching vision for a European spatial data infrastructure for the purposes of EU's environmental policies and policies or activities which have an impact on the environment (Article 1 of INSPIRE Directive 2007/2/EC) has not changed since the inception of the Directive, and is to promote data sharing and put in place easy-to-use, transparent, interoperable spatial data services which are used in the daily work of environmental and other policy makers and policy implementers across the EU at all levels of governance as well as businesses, science and citizens.

To realise the vision and to maximize and facilitate the reuse of data across administrative levels, borders and sectors, data offerings from different sources should be consistent and comparable. At the same time the INSPIRE community has clearly indicated the need to drive the further implementation (data and services availability, accessibility and interoperability) of the Directive by a real demand and tangible use cases. Furthermore it is suggested to speed up the implementation by doing less but doing it quicker.   

The data prioritisation methodology would consist of selecting those data sets that satisfy concrete needs of the stakeholders (local, regional, national and European administrations for implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, Community legislation, etc.) and for which interoperability should be pursued.

Current INSPIRE implementation is still very heterogeneous and therefore only has limited ability for reuse across borders and for constructing pan-European datasets and applications. There are actually current several ongoing initiatives and projects exploring the possibility of using the INSPIRE infrastructure directly for the purpose of creating pan-European datasets and applications (e.g. Eurostat projects, Copernicus in-situ activities, IACS data exchange). Common to all these projects is the need for a specific governance which engages data providers and investigates technical capacities or obstacles. Dissemination of results and lessons learnt from such activities is also key for future improvements. Importantly, the prioritisation of certain INSPIRE spatial data themes and datasets in the scope of clear use cases and policy requirements is considered essential to achieve the goal of constructing pan-European datasets and ensure their re-use. In this sense, the priority list of datasets for e-Reporting, developed under the previous Work Programme, has already proven useful but it needs to be regularly updated to reflect changing reporting requirements or legislation. Synchronisation between different priority requirements and availability of datasets will also bring synergies and increase possibility of reusing datasets for different purposes.

Furthermore and beyond the scope of ongoing prioritisation initiatives (e.g.  the Commission geospatial requirements paper and the activity on priority data for environmental reporting …),  the data prioritisation should also consider the new political agenda (e.g. Biodiversity strategy, Circular Economy Action Plan, Zero Pollution Action Plan … ) and emerging legal frameworks and (e.g. High Value Data sets under the Open data directive, EU common data spaces …).

Proposed action

  1. Develop a prioritisation methodology.
  2. Document data priorities (use case(s), data requirements, reuse capacity …) and demonstrate possible data usage.
  3. Manage data priorities as list(s) of priority INSPIRE datasets (e.g. priority list of datasets for e-Reporting, core data sets, High Value Datasets … ) and develop guidance for their implementation.
  4. Identify, discuss and remediate priority data implementation issues e.g. by considering or proposing alternative data sources (Copernicus, open source data …) to complete pan-European availability.
  5. Support fast-track data requests, e.g. based on the Commission request for spatial data.
  6. Monitor the availability of the data priority datasets in the INSPIRE Geoportal

Organisational set-up

The action is led by the ENV, ESTAT and EEA, with contribution by the JRC, MS and European Commission DGs (depending on use cases). INSPIRE MIG and MIG-T will be regularly informed and consulted. The established temporary sub-group for action 2016.5 or its successor will be used for coordination. The action will engage with relevant stakeholders such as users of the priority data, data providers and policy implementers.


TaskDeadline (indicative)

Task 1. Prioritisation methodology and processes

December 2021

Task 2. Document the data priorities

Task 3. Manage the list(s) of priority datasets including list of priority datasets for e-Reporting, core data sets, High Value Datasets, or others (annually reviewed)

December each year until 2024

Task 4. Monitor implementation and address identified issues. Initiate pilot projects to remediate issues or demonstrate different uses of data, (annually reviewed)

November each year until 2024)

Task 5. Process fast-track data requests (ad hoc)

Task 6. Improve the INSPIRE Geoportal discoverability and visualisation of priority datasets and provide statistics (continuous task in line with the INSPIRE Geoportal development and evolution - see action 2.4, estimated deadline: aligned with the INSPIRE Geoportal releases)


  • Prioritisation methodology and procedures
  • List of priority datasets
  • Documented data priorities
  • Dissemination of results and communication
  • Higher availability and visibility of priority datasets in the INSPIRE Geoportal
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