Working paper

Are new EU data market regulations coherent and efficient?

Technical restrictions on access to and re-use of data may result in failures in data markets and data-driven services markets.

Publishing date
18 December 2023
Bertin Martens
Picture of Margrethe Vestager

Technical restrictions on access to and re-use of data may result in failures in data markets and data-driven services markets. This paper examines three new EU data regulations (the European Health Data Space, the Data Act and the Digital Markets Act) that vary substantially in mandatory access measures intended to overcome these market failures.
It applies three economic criteria, economies of scope in re-use and in aggregation of data, and data supply-side failures, to assess the efficiency of these regulations in overcoming market failures and coherence across regulations. Variations might be justified by particular sectoral market conditions. The European Health Data Space proposal comes close to an ideal data access regime for primary re-use and secondary pooling of health data. The Data Act opens access to data from tangible products only. It strengthens the market power of data holders by giving them quasi-ownership rights over data. It introduces new obstacles to re-use that are likely to minimise its impact. The Digital Markets Act opens access to market data pools collected by very large gatekeeper platforms. Some access provisions are vaguely defined. Others facilitate access to data pools but may risk unwinding the benefits of data-driven network effects. Th ere is scope for significant improvement in these data regulations.

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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