​​​​​​​​​​​​Inspire Directive

​"INSPIRE" Geo-P​ortal

Key facts from the DIRECTIVE 2007/2/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE)

Community policy on the environment must aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Community. Moreover, information, including spatial information, is needed for the formulation and implementation of this policy and other Community policies, which must integrate environmental protection requirements in accordance with Article 6 of the Treaty. In order to bring about such integration, it is necessary to establish a measure of coordination between the users and providers of the information so that information and knowledge from different sectors can be combined.

The Sixth Environment Action Programme adopted by Decision No 1600/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 July 2002 (3) requires full consideration to be given to ensuring that the Community's environmental policy-making is undertaken in an integrated way, taking into account regional and local differences. A number of problems exist regarding the availability, quality, organisation, accessibility and sharing of spatial information needed in order to achieve the objectives set out in that programme.

The problems regarding the availability, quality, organisation, accessibility and sharing of spatial information are common to a large number of policy and information themes and are experienced across the various levels of public authority. Solving these problems requires measures that address exchange, sharing, access and use of interoperable spatial data and spatial data services across the various levels of public authority and across different sectors. An infrastructure for spatial information in the Community should therefore be established.

The Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (Inspire) should assist policy-making in relation to policies and activities that may have a direct or indirect impact on the environment.

Inspire should be based on the infrastructures for spatial information that are created by the Member States and that are made compatible with common implementing rules and are supplemented with measures at Community level. These measures should ensure that the infrastructures for spatial information created by the Member States are compatible and usable in a Community and transboundary context.

The infrastructures for spatial information in the Member States should be designed to ensure that spatial data are stored, made available and maintained at the most appropriate level; that it is possible to combine spatial data from different sources across the Community in a consistent way and share them between several users and applications; that it is possible for spatial data collected at one level of public authority to be shared between other public authorities; that spatial data are made available under conditions which do not unduly restrict their extensive use; that it is easy to discover available spatial data, to evaluate their suitability for the purpose and to know the conditions applicable to their use.

This Directive should apply to spatial data held by or on behalf of public authorities and to the use of spatial data by public authorities in the performance of their public tasks. Subject to certain conditions, however, it should also apply to spatial data held by natural or legal persons other than public authorities, provided that those natural or legal persons request this.

The implementation of the national infrastructures should be progressive and, accordingly, the spatial data themes covered by this Directive should be accorded different levels of priority. The implementation should take account of the extent to which spatial data are needed for a wide range of applications in various policy areas, of the priority of actions provided for under Community policies that need harmonised spatial data and of the progress already made by the harmonisation efforts undertaken in the Member States.

  • Coordinate reference systems

Systems for uniquely referencing spatial information in space as a set of coordinates (x, y, z) and/or latitude and longitude and height, based on a geodetic horizontal and vertical datum.

  • Geographical grid systems

Harmonised multi-resolution grid with a common point of origin and standardised location and size of grid cells.

  • Geographical names

Names of areas, regions, localities, cities, suburbs, towns or settlements, or any geographical or topographical feature of public or historical interest.

  • Administrative units

Units of administration, dividing areas where Member States have and/or exercise jurisdictional rights, for local, regional and national governance, separated by administrative boundaries.

  • Addresses

Location of properties based on address identifiers, usually by road name, house number, postal code.

  • Cadastral parcels

Areas defined by cadastral registers or equivalent.

  • Transport networks

Road, rail, air and water transport networks and related infrastructure. Includes links between different networks. Also includes the trans-European transport network as defined in Decision No 1692/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 1996 on Community Guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network (1) and future revisions of that Decision.

  • Hydrography

Hydrographic elements, including marine areas and all other water bodies and items related to them, including river basins and sub-basins. Where appropriate, according to the definitions set out in Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (2) and in the form of networks.

  • Protected sites

Area designated or managed within a framework of international, Community and Member States' legislation to achieve specific conservation objectives.​​

  • Elevation

Digital elevation models for land, ice and ocean surface. Includes terrestrial elevation, bathymetry and shoreline.

  • Land cover​

Physical and biological cover of the earth's surface including artificial surfaces, agricultural areas, forests, (semi-)natural areas, wetlands, water bodies.

  • Orthoimagery

Geo-referenced image data of the Earth's surface, from either satellite or airborne sensors.

  • Geology

Geology characterised according to composition and structure. Includes bedrock, aquifers and geomorphology.​​

  • Statistical units

Units for dissemination or use of statistical information.

  • Buildings

Geographical location of buildings.

  • Soil

Soils and subsoil characterised according to depth, texture, structure and content of particles and organic material, stoniness, erosion, where appropriate mean slope and anticipated water storage capacity.

  • Land use

Territory characterised according to its current and future planned functional dimension or socio-economic purpose (e.g. residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural, forestry, recreational).

  • Human health and safety

Geographical distribution of dominance of pathologies (allergies, cancers, respiratory diseases, etc.), information indicating the effect on health (biomarkers, decline of fertility, epidemics) or well-being of humans (fatigue, stress, etc.) linked directly (air pollution, chemicals, depletion of the ozone layer, noise, etc.) or indirectly (food, genetically modified organisms, etc.) to the quality of the environment.

  • Utility and governmental services

Includes utility facilities such as sewage, waste management, energy supply and water supply, administrative and social governmental services such as public administrations, civil protection sites, schools and hospitals.

  • Environmental monitoring facilities

Location and operation of environmental monitoring facilities includes observation and measurement of emissions, of the state of environmental media and of other ecosystem parameters (biodiversity, ecological conditions of vegetation, etc.) by or on behalf of public authorities.

  • Production and industrial facilities

Industrial production sites, including installations covered by Council Directive 96/61/EC of 24 September 1996 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control (1) and water abstraction facilities, mining, storage sites.

  • Agricultural and aquaculture facilities

Farming equipment and production facilities (including irrigation systems, greenhouses and stables).

  • Population distribution — demography

Geographical distribution of people, including population characteristics and activity levels, aggregated by grid, region, administrative unit or other analytical unit.

  • Area management/restriction/regulation zones and reporting units

Areas managed, regulated or used for reporting at international, European, national, regional and local levels. Includes dumping sites, restricted areas around drinking water sources, nitrate-vulnerable zones, regulated fairways at sea or large inland waters, areas for the dumping of waste, noise restriction zones, prospecting and mining permit areas, river basin districts, relevant reporting units and coastal zone management areas.

  • Natural risk zones

Vulnerable areas characterised according to natural hazards (all atmospheric, hydrologic, seismic, volcanic and wildfire phenomena that, because of their location, severity, and frequency, have the potential to seriously affect society), e.g. floods, landslides and subsidence, avalanches, forest fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions.

  • Atmospheric conditions

Physical conditions in the atmosphere. Includes spatial data based on measurements, on models or on a combination thereof and includes measurement locations.

  • Meteorological geographical features

Weather conditions and their measurements; precipitation, temperature, evapotranspiration, wind speed and direction.

  • Oceanographic geographical features

Physical conditions of oceans (currents, salinity, wave heights, etc.).

  • Sea regions

Physical conditions of seas and saline water bodies divided i​nto regions and sub-regions with common characteristics.

  • Bio-geographical regions

Areas of relatively homogeneous ecological conditions with common characteristics.

  • Habitats and biotopes

Geographical areas characterised by specific ecological conditions, processes, structure, and (life support) functions that physically support the organisms that live there. Includes terrestrial and aquatic areas distinguished by geographical, abiotic and biotic features, whether entirely natural or semi-natural.

  • Species distribution

Geographical distribution of occurrence of animal and plant species aggregated by grid, region, administrative unit or other analytical unit.

  • Energy resources

Energy resources including hydrocarbons, hydropower, bio-energy, solar, wind, etc., where relevant including depth/height information on the extent of the resource.

  • Mineral resources

Mineral resources including metal ores, industrial minerals, etc., where relevant including depth/height information on the extent of the resource.​​

Since the wide diversity of formats and structures in which spatial data are organised and accessed in the Community hampers the efficient formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Community legislation that directly or indirectly affect the environment, implementing measures should be provided for in order to facilitate the use of spatial data from different sources across the Member States. Those measures should be designed to make the spatial data sets interoperable, and Member States should ensure that any data or information needed for the purposes of achieving interoperability are available on conditions that do not restrict their use for that purpose. Implementing rules should be based, where possible, on international standards and should not result in excessive costs for Member States.

Network services are necessary for sharing spatial data between the various levels of public authority in the Community. Those network services should make it possible to discover, transform, view and download spatial data and to invoke spatial data and e-commerce services. The services of the network should work in accordance with commonly agreed specifications and minimum performance criteria in order to ensure the interoperability of the infrastructures established by the Member States. The network of services should also include the technical possibility to enable public authorities to make their spatial data sets and services available.

Experience in the Member States has shown that it is important, for the successful implementation of an infrastructure for spatial information, that a minimum number of services be made available to the public free of charge. Member States should therefore make available, as a minimum and free of charge, the services for discovering and, subject to certain specific conditions, viewing spatial data sets.

The INSPIRE Directive refers to 3 Annexes which describe different Data Themes.​