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Thursday, 30 June 2011 11:38

Towards harmonised environmental information in Europe: have your say on standards that will affect everybody's life

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Brussels, 29 June 2011 - Arranging a cross border emergency rescue, preventing major environmental damage or comparing energy consumption of buildings in different countries will soon be faster and easier thanks to improved data sharing in the EU.

With INSPIRE - Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe - the European Union is creating a common standard to make environmental information quickly and easily accessible. This will translate into clear benefits for European citizens, ranging from improved emergency services to a healthier everyday environment. Common standards will help to cut costs and improve the basis for decision making at all levels. Views are now being sought on the suitability of the proposed standards (see link below).

Common standards will contribute to improving success rates in cases where access to correct information is essential. This will help prevent unfortunate incidents such as one involving a fire brigade in the South of France, which was delayed due a lack of access to updated and integrated data. INSPIRE will also play an important role in calculating how countries reach EU objectives in reducing energy consumption: today the error margin can be as high as 20%.

Hundreds of experts from across Europe have been working together for several years to agree common definitions in important policy areas such as energy, climate change, biodiversity, the marine environment, and human health. The proposed standards are now open for public consultation and testing to assess their usability across disciplines and nations.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "The INSPIRE standards will help us improve the environment. The more we have a common understanding in Europe of what we talk about, the better we can work together for the benefit of environment. I hope many people will tell us what they think about it."

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, and thus responsible for the Joint Research Centre (JRC) which does the technical coordination of INSPIRE, said: "With material and expertise made available by over 650 public and private organisations and coordinated by the JRC, INSPIRE is a knowledge-base of tremendous potential. Common environmental data standards are crucial not only for policymaking but also for underpinning scientific research and ultimately the deployment of innovative and sustainable technologies"

  • Common yardsticks for Europe's environment open for public examination

Data specifications covering 25 themes including land cover, buildings, soil, land-use, energy, health and safety are now open for public consultation until 21 October 2011.

This means that everyone can have a say on standards that will harmonize the EU-wide approach to data about natural risk zones, atmospheric conditions, meteorological geographical features, oceanographic geographical features, sea regions, habitats and biotopes, species distribution, and energy and mineral resources.

Once adopted, the standards will facilitate cross-border integration and analysis of environmental data, modelling, and forecasting activities in many policy areas.

Studies have shown that the benefits of INSPIRE are both economic and social: while allowing faster and less expensive environmental impact assessment, INSPIRE brings improved business opportunities and creates synergies between  public administrations.

  • INSPIRed by 2020

The launch of this consultation coincides with the INSPIRE Conference which takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland, from 27 June to 1 July 2011. This event brings together 700 representatives from governments and the private sector to explore how INSPIRE can contribute to Europe's 2020 strategic goals under the theme "INSPIRed by 2020 - Contributing to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth."


The INSPIRE Directive came into force on 15 May 2007 and will be implemented in various stages, with full implementation required by 2019. It aims to create a spatial data infrastructure which enables the sharing of spatial information among public sector organisations and facilitates public access to spatial information across Europe.

The consultation is open at:


For more details see:


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