How does the EU Data Act aim to promote competition in data markets?

Publishing date
30 January 2023
Bertin Martens
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Access to data has become a hot topic within digital economy debates. Data are often co-generated between two or more parties, each claiming – but not always getting – access and use rights. Access to data may be justified when the social value of data for society exceeds the private value for individuals or firms who generated the data. The tracking of data during the Covid pandemic vividly illustrated this argument.


A series of European data policy initiatives acknowledge the need to open access to privately held data. The EU Digital Markets Act mandates access to some types of data collected by large gatekeeper platforms to facilitate competition in data-driven services markets. The Data Governance Act imposes conditions on intermediaries in data markets. For example, the European Health Data System intends to make it easier to transfer health data between medical service providers and facilitate the pooling of health data for research purposes. Several other sectoral data pooling initiatives are in the pipeline. 


The draft EU Data Act aims to give users of digital devices access to the data that the device generates. That eliminates the device manufacturers’ monopoly on data access and should promote more competition in data-driven services markets. However, the Data Act also imposes some anti-competitive restrictions on data access conditions. The Data Act should be improved, not only to enhance competition in data-driven services markets, but also to avoid too much differentiation in data access conditions that would result in regulatory fragmentation in the rapidly growing EU data regulation landscape.  

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About the authors

  • Bertin Martens

    Bertin Martens is a Senior fellow at Bruegel. He has been working on digital economy issues, including e-commerce, geo-blocking, digital copyright and media, online platforms and data markets and regulation, as senior economist at the Joint Research Centre (Seville) of the European Commission, for more than a decade until April 2022.  Prior to that, he was deputy chief economist for trade policy at the European Commission, and held various other assignments in the international economic policy domain.  He is currently a non-resident research fellow at the Tilburg Law & Economics Centre (TILEC) at Tilburg University (Netherlands).  

    His current research interests focus on economic and regulatory issues in digital data markets and online platforms, the impact of digital technology on institutions in society and, more broadly, the long-term evolution of knowledge accumulation and transmission systems in human societies.  Institutions are tools to organise information flows.  When digital technologies change information costs and distribution channels, institutional and organisational borderlines will shift.  

    He holds a PhD in economics from the Free University of Brussels.

    Disclosure of external interests  

    Declaration of interests 2023

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