By Finn Raben
This morning’s news that the people of Britain had voted to leave the EU, has ensured that June 23rd will be an historic day in the annals of the EU…whether it will be regarded as a “good” day or a “bad” day for either Britain or the EU, will only become apparent during the next two years.
That said, I suspect that the euphoria expressed by the winning side will soon dissipate as the true complexity of dealing with the outcome becomes clearer.
There was a very interesting article published in The Guardian newspaper yesterday, entitled : ‘The UK is now two nations, staring across a political chasm’ – written by John Harris. This article took the position that the story of the referendum was the restive mood of millions in the UK, and that the (in Harris’ words) “disgraceful tricks” of political messaging were not sufficiently counterbalanced by responsible broadcast journalism, leading to emotive themes becoming the predominant communication tactic.
Now that the result is known, the chasm is probably a lot wider, and a lot more complex, than a simple In / Out decision might have inferred….
- Almost half of Britain does not want to leave the EU
– the split of 52% – 48% is by no means an overwhelming majority
- England and Wales voted to Leave the EU
- Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU…
– Will this require a second independence referendum in Scotland ?
– Will the travel, customs and security border need to be reinstated between the 26 counties of the Republic and the 6 counties of the North of Ireland?
– Does this signify the beginning of the end for the Union of Home Nations?
- London voted to remain, much of the North voted to leave…
– is there a capital city syndrome becoming apparent ?
- Most of the House of Commons supported a Remain position;
– Is the current government now out of sync with the electorate?
– Is there a need for a general election?
- The young (under 50) voted to remain in the EU, the older generation to leave….
– Most young people (all over the EU and the world) are pro Europe, so should voters have stood back and remind themselves that the future is about their children and grandchildren, and have trusted in the next generations instincts and vote in a way that best suited their future desires?
- What will happen to British expatriates, living and working in the EU, and their EU counterparts, living and working in the UK ?
- The Brexit vote will put immediate stress on Transatlantic political unity (amid growing tensions with Russia), and will complicate U.S. trade ties, particularly on issues such as TTIP and the Privacy Shield.
- If we assume that the Brexit vote was largely a referendum on elites and immigration, these are the same themes that Republican nominee Donald Trump has put at the center of his bid for the White House –will he seize on these results as a vindication of his position and campaign?
- Right-wing conservatives in the Netherlands and in France are using the result to call for referenda in each of the member states; Russia will be delighted at any sign of weakness in the EU structure, and at any evidence of transatlantic disunity, putting pressure on the EU to “resolve” the situation quickly
The essence of a referendum is that people speak – not the politicians. The British people have now spoken, and the resulting task facing Britain’s government is a daunting one; effect the withdrawal, whilst managing/repairing the rifts that the voting results above have clearly highlighted.
However, an equally daunting challenge now also exists for the European Union; if Britain has reached a point where dissatisfaction with its EU membership has hit breaking point, how long will it be until the next country seeks a similar referendum? The danger is to assume that the EU is “ok”, whereas it is far from it. Reform will be needed on both sides of the European divide, to ensure both entities are “fit for purpose” for the coming years. If this is not recognised, if the political classes do not notice that people are discontent and that they feel they are not being listened to, then politicians play into the hands of populists who leverage emotions and prejudices…so listen, or beware.
Finn Raben is ESOMAR Director General. @Finn01 #esomar
by Jan Willem Knibbe
Text and data mining is a hot topic. Some see it as a new revenue source for market research and insights professionals, with its promise of effective analysis of vast amounts of data. You don’t have to ask respondents to fill in cumbersome questionnaires but you can analyse what they post online. Fast, cheap and versatile data. However, in Europe the current copyright framework poses a big hurdle for these types of research projects.
Under the current legislation, researchers interested in data mining can only copy copyrighted data with the permission of the author. Unlike in the USA, there is no fair-use provision in the legal framework that would enable using these data for research purposes without the explicit permission of the author. This gap has also been identified by the European Union. As part of the Digital Single Market agenda, a review of the copyright legislation is foreseen. One of the aspects that this review should cover is creating an exemption for research purposes in the copyright law. We have previously published an article about these developments: A new copyright directive in Europe: will there be room for data mining?
Since we published that article it has now become clear that the European Commission will champion a research exemption in the new framework. However, a debate has emerged whether only non-commercial research should benefit from the exemption. This is a revival of a notion first proposed in the General Data Protection Regulation where it was first suggested that only non-commercial research should be allowed to make use of any derogations foreseen for research purposes.
This position, however, is not unanimously supported. Support for broadening the exemption to all research isn’t coming just from business research community, but also the academic research community which issued a clear call that any distinction between commercial or non-commercial research is artificial and will only lead to legal uncertainty. For example, LERU (League of European Research Universities) writes that the potential of Text and Data Mining (TDM) is acknowledged by researchers, who see the benefits of using automated tools to mine the literature and supporting research data. (…) However, the legal basis to allow the use of TDM techniques, certainly in licensed commercial literature, is unclear. What is needed at a European level is a Fair Dealing Exception, certainly for the purposes of research, in the EU Copyright and Database Directives to facilitate the sharing and re-use of research data.
One of the arguments in favour of not making a distinction is that it would be legally difficult to determine where to draw the line between commercial and non-commercial purposes. It has been noted by many that commercial research projects are done by universities, while commercial companies are executing research project for the public good. This has been partly recognised by DG Connect by focusing on the purpose of the project, and not the body executing the project. Nevertheless, the question on where to draw the line remains open for interpretation and consequently which projects might benefit from the Commission proposals.
Another issue being addressed it the current voluntary nature of any exemption in the Infosoc Directive, which is the European legislation governing copyright. This means that every Member State is free to choose whether or not it provides for an exemption, including for text and data mining. This creates a complex, heterogonous legal framework to contend with, especially in the case of international research projects not to mention the uneven playing field created in the different Member States.
Unlike the discussion around putting limits on research, this seems to be a more accepted change in the legislation. Nevertheless, European harmonisation is increasingly sensitive in most national governments, who have to approve any new directive in the Council of the European Union. It remains to be seen if this proposal will make it to the finishing line. A new legislative proposal covering data mining is expected in September 2016, but it yet unclear when it could be adopted by the Parliament and Council. For an explanation of the process, please consult our law making in Europe beginners’ guide.
All in all, there is still a long road ahead of us. ESOMAR will continue to monitor this dossier, and try to convince European legislators that the distinction between commercial and non-commercial research is artificial would prevent all research actors, including applied research actors like market research agencies, from using text and data mining to improve the speed, relevance, and effectiveness of insights for the betterment of businesses and society alike.
Jan Willem Knibbe is Policy & Public Affairs Assistant at ESOMAR.