Digital Future

Data Economy

Europe’s digital transformation – creating a single market for data

In 2020, the European Union unveiled its data strategy for making Europe a leader in data-driven innovation. Unusually, its aim is not to address an existing market failure but instead to create a competitive, common European data space – a single market for data – via a mesh of regulatory provisions. The Commission and other EU institutions see a bright future for the strategy and are forging ahead with its implementation. The strategy’s core component is the Data Act of late 2023, which breaks new ground globally and was created from scratch. The Act provides a fundamental framework – as yet, incomplete – governing the realisation of the economic potential of data across all sectors and along all value chains. It consequently includes rights to be provided with certain data and indicates the standard clauses that may (or may not) be included in data contracts in business-to-business transactions. The Data Act is flanked by the Digital Markets Act, which establishes a set of special competition rules for platforms with “gatekeeper” status, and the Data Governance Act, which regulates data sharing through data altruism organisations, data cooperatives and data intermediation services providers. There are also various other provisions on “data spaces”, some of which are sector- and area-specific, in particular in relation to industry, health, mobility, finance, energy and the European Green Deal. Further legislation is expected.

The emerging laws on the data economy overlap with a wide range of traditional areas of law – intellectual property, data protection, product approval and safety, civil and contract law, licensing law, and cybersecurity. Moreover, the data economy is closely interlinked with the other major areas for regulation under the EU’s digital strategy – cybersecurity an AI. Regulation is in full swing. The legal challenges are immense – and the opportunities too.

Our approach – Data 360°

We provide comprehensive legal advice in all areas of the data economy and have dedicated teams of lawyers that specialise in data issues, often with a focus on specific industries. In the same way that data regulation is embedded within the EU’s overall digital strategy, our Data practice forms part of our broader Digital Economy practice. However, as a full service law firm, we also cover those areas where the data economy intersects with other areas of law and offer integrated teams.

Data regulation presents different opportunities and challenges for each company. That’s why we work closely with our clients to identify their areas of interest, develop an overview of the issues most relevant to their business, and ensure they have specific legal protections in place. We help our clients manage and grow their businesses in a way that complies with the law.

Where we can help

  • Data contracts
    Our team includes lawyers with decades of experience in transactions, IP/IT projects and contract drafting. We are not only recognised experts in licensing and cooperations but also have data-specific expertise, as shown by our experience and publications in the field. We review, negotiate and draw up data contracts between all relevant stakeholders – data holders, users, business-to-business and business-to-consumer. We ensure the new requirements of data contracts are met, that other relevant legislation – such as competition/antitrust and data protection – is adhered to, and that data protection officers and authorities are involved where necessary. 
  • Product and service development
    The Data Act requires manufacturers and providers of connected products and related services to ensure their goods and services meet the Act’s provisions. We help ensure that Internet of Things (IoT) services and the product design of IoT devices fulfil the relevant requirements. 
  • Data access advice
    A core element of the EU’s strategy for data is the right to the provision of certain data. For some parties this represents an opening, for others a threat. New business models will emerge, while some existing ones will face obstacles. Data intermediaries will gain significance. We advise on the opportunities and risks, on the legal limitations and on structuring.
  • Data governance
    The more economically and legally significant data becomes, the greater the need for governance structures – and that’s where we can help.This area is also increasingly the focus of legislation, even beyond the protection of personal data. The EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act, for example, imposes strict data governance obligations on providers of high-risk AI systems. We help companies to comply with the relevant requirements and ensure a high standard of data quality and security, e.g. by defining responsibilities, access rights and processes within the data ecosystem. 
  • Data marketplaces
    Both data exchange and trading as well as closed data pools are gaining significance. Data intermediation service providers (data marketplaces and industrial data platforms) are subject to a registration procedure and must ensure interoperability with other data intermediation service providers and an appropriate level of security. Gleiss Lutz advises service providers on implementing the requirements of the Data Governance Act on data intermediation. 
  • Data protection
    The data economy is inconceivable without data protection. We naturally also assist with all aspects of data protection in the data economy and with any overlaps with the Digital Services Act. 
  • Competition/antitrust
    The competitive environment of the digital and often automated world requires special consideration to be given to minimising competition and antitrust risks. This especially applies to gatekeepers within the meaning of the Digital Markets Act. Gleiss Lutz enjoys longstanding recognition as one of the leading law firms for competition and antitrust. We advise companies on all issues at the intersection of big data, digital economy and antitrust/competition. From an antitrust and competition perspective, we focus in particular on data pooling, data sharing, data-related cooperations and data access rights. We also handle the setting-up and implementation of antitrust compliance structures for data-based business models and Industry 4.0 applications.


33 questions and answers about the Data Act

For more information about the Data Act, see our 

33 Questions and Answers About the Data Act

If your question has not been answered, then feel free to contact us.