The EU has launched a public beta of its new open data portal at http://open-data.europa.eu/open-data/. Open data is information that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone. The EU portal covers all the information that public bodies in the European Union produce, collect or pay for. At present it has 5,811 datasets of which 5,634 come from Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU.

You can search the datasets by keyword and refine your results using the keywords and publishers listed on the right of the screen.

Alternatively there are options for browsing the datasets using tags and keywords. This may be easier if you are not sure of what terms to use.

Using the tags also seems to be more reliable. A search on coal production gave me one relevant dataset but the rest of the results only had production as a keyword. I was seeing sets for carrot production, production of butter, sunflower production etc. I assume that ‘coal’ had been dropped because there were so few results containing both terms. Searching on just coal reduced the number of results from around 5000 to 7, one of which was highly relevant (Primary production of coal and lignite). The other 6 covered energy production in general including coal. Browsing and narrowing down the sets using the tags does seem to be the best way of navigating the data at the moment.

Once you have identified a relevant dataset additional information such as time span and date last modified are provided together with links for downloading the data.

It’s then up to you to find a way of viewing and analysing the data!

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