Doctoral thesis (Dissertations and theses)
IN PURSUIT OF OPENNESS An analysis of the legal framework of the European Union’s Copernicus’ open data policy
Cabrera Alvarado, Sandra


Full Text
Publisher postprint (3.22 MB)

All documents in ORBilu are protected by a user license.

Send to


Keywords :
Earth Observation; Space law; European Law
Abstract :
[en] The European Union (EU) civil Earth Observation (EO) programme Copernicus, has positioned itself as one of the largest EO data providers worldwide by providing an answer to strong demand for (environmental) data and information thanks to its open data policy mandated by its regulatory framework. Nevertheless, it has been the target of criticism by some policymakers who argue that rather benefiting Europeans, Copernicus' open data policy impacts negatively in the Union’s competitiveness and furthers the economic interests of US tech giants, such as Amazon and Google. Facing this criticism, the European Commission has evaluated possible modifications on the open data policy pillars “full, free and open” to address emerging economic and technological challenges. This dissertation contributes to this debate by answering the overarching question of whether alterations to the open data policy could be done without hampering Copernicus’ core goals, and whether such alternation would be in compliance with the EU legal framework. Specifically, this dissertation addresses the balancing of the right of access to public information against the economic public interest protection. To do so, firstly, this dissertation explains the legal meaning of the Copernicus’ open data policy pillars: 1) full, 2) free and 3) open within the context of EU law. Secondly, it explains the substantive limits of the open data policy, by examining non-contractual third party liability for the Commission, as well as the lawful exceptions to access to Copernicus data and information. These lawful exceptions are formulated by the Copernicus Regulation 377/2014 and Delegated Regulation 1159/2013 as the “protection of public security” and “international relations interests,” the “protection of privacy” and the “integrity of the Copernicus system”. However, this dissertation goes further by examining other EU law texts on the right of access to public information, such as the Regulation 1049/2001 and its Article 4 on the protection of public economic and financial interests, and the public overriding interests on access to environmental information enshrined mainly in the Regulation 1367/2006 and the Directive 2003/4/EC. Finally, it presents a proposal on how to evaluate the performance of Copernicus’ open data policy in order to determine if any substantial modification of this policy is indeed desirable.
Disciplines :
European & international law
Author, co-author :
Cabrera Alvarado, Sandra ;  University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF)
Language :
Title :
IN PURSUIT OF OPENNESS An analysis of the legal framework of the European Union’s Copernicus’ open data policy
Defense date :
05 May 2020
Institution :
Unilu - University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Degree :
Docteur en Droit
President :
Jury member :
Cole, Mark David  
Harris, Ray
Thoma, Ioanna
Focus Area :
Law / European Law
Available on ORBilu :
since 18 November 2020


Number of views
279 (14 by Unilu)
Number of downloads
313 (5 by Unilu)


Similar publications

Contact ORBilu