Establishing Common Ground Through INSPIRE: The Legally-Driven European Spatial Data Infrastructure

  • Vlado CetlEmail author
  • Robert Tomas
  • Alexander Kotsev
  • Vanda Nunes de Lima
  • Robin S. Smith
  • Markus Jobst
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


Back in the 1990s, there were several barriers for accessing and using the spatial data and information necessary for environmental management and policy making in Europe. These included different data policies, encodings, formats and semantics, to name a few. Data was collected for, and applied to, domain specific use cases and comprehensive standards did not exist, all impacting on the re-usability of such public sector data. To release the potential of spatial data held by public authorities and improve evidence-based environmental policy making, action was needed at all levels (Local, Regional, National, European) to introduce more effective data and information management and to make data available for citizens’ interest. The INSPIRE Directive, the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe, directly addresses this set of problems. The Directive came into force on 15 May 2007, with full implementation in every EU Member State required by 2021. It combines both, a legal and a technical framework for the EU Member States, to make relevant spatial data accessible and reused. Specifically, this has meant making data discoverable and interoperable through a common set of standards, data models and Internet services. The Directive’s data scope covers 34 themes of cross-sector relevance as a decentralised infrastructure where data remains at the place it can be best maintained. A great deal of experience has been gained by public administrations through its implementation. Due to its complexity and wide scope, this is taking place in a stepwise manner, with benefits already emerging as important deadlines approached. Efficient and effective coordination are following the participatory approach established in its design. It is timely to reflect on 10 years of progress of the “cultural change” which the European Spatial Data Infrastructure represents. We therefore, consider the lessons INSPIRE is offering for those interested in joined-up and federated approaches to geospatial data-sharing and semantic interoperability across borders and sectors. The approach itself is evolving through this experience.


European spatial data infrastructure INSPIRE Data interoperability Service-oriented architecture 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vlado Cetl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Tomas
    • 1
  • Alexander Kotsev
    • 1
  • Vanda Nunes de Lima
    • 1
  • Robin S. Smith
    • 1
  • Markus Jobst
    • 2
  1. 1.European Commission, Joint Research CentreIspraItaly
  2. 2.Research Group CartographyVienna University of TechnologyViennaAustria

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