In Europe, decisions by the European Union affect millions of citizens living and working within its member states and people around the world. In the wake of various crises around the world, there is a need to collaborate, discuss and push transparency needs further — whether it is for open company registers, parliamentary data, budgets, spending or open contracting.
As everyone has the right to information, people need to know how these decisions are made, who participates in preparing them, who receives funding, how you can make your views known and what information is held or produced to prepare and adopt those decisions.
Although more and more countries in Europe have adopted transparency and open data policies, abundant and necessary information is not disclosed, hard to find or not really accessible to everyone. It not only differs from country to country, but also between various institutions and agencies. As more machine-readable government data becomes available, government information needs to become more usable and understandable.
To help move this further in Europe, Open State Foundation and the Dutch Presidency of the European Council have launched a series of events, including: an online, Europeanwide open data App Competition; a number of local events in various European capitals; and finally a conference for open government — TransparencyCamp Europe — which will be held on June 1 in Amsterdam. It’s free to attend, so sign up today!
Too much data is scattered around various locations or comes in different formats. The recently launched European data portal brings public data from all over Europe into a central place, currently holding about 400,000 datasets from European countries sourced from national, regional, local and domain-specific public data providers. This portal includes 68 catalogs and 13 categories, such as government and public sector, the justice and legal system and public safety, health, transport, economy and finance. However, the availability of machine-readable data on national portals is relatively low. Only 15 percent of the European catalogs have more than 75 percent of their data available in machine-readable format.
EU decision making — involving national governments and parliaments, the European Commission and the European Parliament, the European Council and the many EU institutions and agencies — is quite complex. Still, there is already open data available, though differing in quality and ease of use.
While the EU Whoiswho website posts information on the EU’s institutions, who works there and their contact information, the data is not easily reusable. That is why we scraped it and have made it available to you on GitHub in CSV and JSON formats. And if you’re crawling through information on EU budgets, finances, funds, contracts and beneficiaries, you’ll notice room for improvement.
So join us and help to make the EU more transparent as TransparencyCamp Europe comes to Amsterdam.
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