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DCAT application profile for data portals in Europe

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  The DCAT Application profile for data portals in Europe (DCAT-AP) is a specification based on the Data Catalogue vocabulary (DCAT) for describing public sector datasets in Europe. Its basic use case is to enable cross-data portal search for data sets and make public sector data better searchable across borders and sectors. This can be achieved by the exchange of descriptions of datasets among data portals.

In February 2015, the ISA Programme of the European Commission has started an activity to revise the DCAT-AP, based on experience gained since its development in 2013.


Participate in the revision of the DCAT-AP

The ISA Programme of the European Commission is starting an activity to review and revise the DCAT Application Profile for Data Portals in Europe, based on experience gained since its initial specification in 2013. The revision process will take place between February and June 2015.


In a first round of this activity we are inviting stakeholders to participate in this review by submitting change requests and additional suggestions that can be taken into account.


If you or your organisation has implemented the DCAT-AP, we kindly invite you to provide feedback by sending an E-mail to the DCAT-AP mailing list [dcat_application_profile[at]joinup[dot]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu]. Upon reception of the feedback, the editor of the revised DCAT-AP will aggregate all inputs by creating entries in the issue tracker. Please include the following topics in your E-mail:

  • Your name and organisation;
  • How you use the DCAT-AP;
  • The issues you identified by working with the current version of DCAT-AP; and
  • The proposed improvement to DCAT-AP.

For more information, please refer to the DCAT-AP Revision page.

Known implementations

The DCAT-AP is used in the Open Data Support service initiated by the European Commission with the purpose of realising the vision of European data portals. Moreover, the DCAT-AP is the standard that will be used for describing datasets on the Pan-European Data Portal, which is currently under development.


Key milestones

  • In February 2015, the ISA programme of the European Commission started the revision process of the DCAT Application Profile by inviting stakeholders to participate by submitting change requests and additional suggestions that can be taken into account
  • On 5 July 2014, the call for tender SMART 2014/1072 for the pan-European open data portal was published, including DCAT-AP as an explicit requirement
  • On 13 March 2014 the Coordination Group of the Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations (ISA) Programme endorsed the DCAT-AP specification.
  • On 16 January 2014 W3C published the DCAT specification as a W3C Recommendation; and
  • On 1 September 2013 DCAT-AP was implemented on the Open Data Interoperability Platform (ODIP) of Open Data Support service initiated by DG CONNECT of the European Commission. The platform contains harmonised descriptions of more than 77.000 datasets from 16 European data catalogues.
  • On 8 May 2013 a final draft of DCAT-AP was released to the general public for a two-month public review period.
  • From April 2013 till May 2013 the DCAT-AP specification was created by a Working Group with representatives from 16 European Member States, some European Institutions and the US, following an open and inclusive process of consensus building.

Who initiated this work?

The DCAT Application profile is a joint initiative of

Why is an application profile needed?

Studies conducted on behalf of the European Commission (see this link for an overview) show that businesses and citizens still face difficulties in finding and re-using public sector information. In its communication on Open Data of December 12 2011, the European Commission states that the availability of the information in a machine-readable format as well as a thin layer of commonly agreed metadata could facilitate data cross-reference and interoperability and therefore considerably enhance its value for reuse.

The aim to ensure consistency in the description metadata published by data portals across Europe is important and has a clear business case. We see the following scenarios: 

  • Data reusers find it at times difficult to get an overview of which datasets exists and which public administrations are maintaining it, in particular if the datasets are in another Member State where language barriers may apply and the structure of government is unfamiliar.  To address this problem, data publishers and portals, maintain catalogues of datasets that are made available by public administrations on their websites. The quality of the description metadata in these catalogues directly affects how easily datasets can be found.
  • Data providers want to encourage reuse of their datasets by making them searchable and accessible. Here publishing description metadata of the datasets online can be at times more important than making it the actual data available. Especially in cases where the costs to publish datasets is high and the actual demand for it unclear, listing on one or more data portals can signal availability at low cost.

The application profile is a specification for metadata records to meet the specific application needs of data portals in Europe while providing semantic interoperability with other applications on the basis of reuse of established controlled vocabularies (e.g. EuroVoc) and mappings to existing metadata vocabularies (e.g. Dublin Core, SDMX, INSPIRE metadata, etc).

Related links



Geo-DCAT-AP is an extension of DCAT-AP for describing geospatial datasets, data series, and services. It provides an RDF syntax binding for the union of metadata elements of the INSPIRE Metadata Regulation, the INSPIRE Regulation on interoperability of spatial datasets and services and the ISO 19115:2003 Core. Its basic use case is to make spatial datasets, data series, and services searchable on general data portals, thereby making geospatial information better searchable across borders and sectors. This can be achieved by the exchange of descriptions of data sets among data portals.

The Geo-DCAT-AP specification does not replace the INSPIRE Metadata Regulation nor the INSPIRE Metadata technical guidelines based on ISO 19115 and ISO19119. Its purpose is give owners of geospatial metadata the possibility to achieve more by providing an additional RDF syntax binding. Conversion rules to RDF syntax would allow Member States to maintain their collections of INSPIRE-relevant datasets following the INSPIRE Metadata technical guidelines based on ISO 19115 and ISO19119, while at the same time publishing these collections on DCAT-AP-conform data portals. A lossless conversion to RDF syntax allows additional metadata elements to be displayed on general-purposed data portals, provided that such data portals are capable of displaying of additional metadata elements.



The objective of this work is to define an RDF syntax that can be used for the exchange of descriptions of spatial datasets among data portals. The RDF syntax should extend the DCAT Application Profile for data portals in Europe.

  • To provide an RDF syntax binding for the union of the metadata elements in the INSPIRE Metadata Regulation and the ISO 19115:2003 core profile. The guiding design principles is to make the resulting RDF syntax as simple as possible; thereby maximally using existing RDF vocabularies such as the Dublin Core and DCAT-AP and only minting new terms when no suitable terms are available.
  • To formulate recommendations to the Working Group dealing with the revision of the DCAT-AP, to maximally align DCAT-AP and Geo-DCAT-AP.
  • To take into account and refer to alignment of relevant controlled vocabularies (e.g., the alignments between GEMET, INSPIRE themes, EuroVoc carried out by the Publications Office).


Collaborative tools

This section contains all the practical information on the tools used by the Working Group to collaborate:

  • Members of the Working Group and Review Group: A list with the current members on Joinup.
  • Geo-DCAT-AP Mailing list and public mail archive on Joinup.
  • Issue tracker: This is where contributors can submit issues and comment on the issues that are already logged.
  • e-Library: This contains all the documents of the DCAT-AP Working Group: the Virtual Meetings agenda and minutes, the use cases, controlled vocabularies, related work and other documents.
  • Release pages: Joinup pages where all the DCAT-AP versions are published.



This section provides a tentative workplan, identifying the main tasks and deliverables following the Process and Methodology for Core Vocabularies.

  • 2015-03: Establish a Working Group:  a working group and collaborative environment will be set up as described in this charter.
  • 2015-03: Secure Intellectual Property Rights: While the ownership and maintenance of Geo-DCAT-AP is with the European Union and European Commission respectively, the objective is to ensure that Geo-DCAT-AP is available for free use and redistribution with or without modifications by all stakeholders including the primary user group, namely the EU institutions that publish Public Sector Information and the organisations that will wish to consume such data. At the same time the link to Geo-DCAT-AP must be maintained in all derivative works, and the European Commission should be protected against false statements of endorsement and any liability claims for damage resulting from the use of Geo-DCAT-AP. To achieve this, Geo-DCAT-AP and all documentation related to it will be published under the ISA Open Metadata License, which is an open licence that satisfies the above-mentioned requirements.
  • 2015-03 – 2015-06: Draft specification: In order to draft specifications, RDF syntax bindings will be proposed for the INSPIRE Metadata Specifications and ISO19115:2003 based on preliminary work performed under ISA action 1.17. This includes:
  • Define syntax bindings to terms in existing RDF vocabularies for INSPIRE metadata elements not considered in the DCAT-AP.
  • Define new terms for metadata elements for which no suitable candidates are available in existing widely used vocabularies.The draft process will be a joint effort by staff of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the ISA Programme. The following Working Group meetings are foreseen:
    • 1st Virtual Meeting – 2015-03-16:
    • 2nd Virtual Meeting – 2015-04-06:
    • 3rd Virtual Meeting – 2015-04-20:
    • 4th Virtual Meeting – 2015-06-08:
  • 2015-03 – 2015-06: Review process: The draft specification will undergo several review rounds within the working group. Comments can be submitted by Working Group members via the publicly archived mailing list. Each comment must be addressed by the working Group.
  • 2015-05: Final public review round: When the Working Group believes that it has done all it can to develop Geo-DCAT-AP, it should publish a Last Call for Review and seek feedback from the wider community. The draft specification will be submitted for public review. Comments can be submitted via its release page on Joinup. Each comment must be addressed by the working Group.
  • 2015-06 – 2015-10 Endorsement process: The final stage in the process is to secure endorsement by the Member States of the European Union, acting through the Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations (ISA). The final draft of the vocabulary, together with evidence of actual or intended usage, should be submitted to the ISA Coordination Group/TIE Cluster.

Who initiated this work?

Geo-DCAT-AP is a joint initiative of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), Unit H.6 (Digital Earth and Reference Data), the Publications Office of the European Union (PO), and the Directorate-General for Informatics (DIGIT) of the European Commission.

In 2014, the JRC conducted an alignment exercise between the INSPIRE metadata elements and DCAT-AP in the framework of ISA Action 1.17 (Re-usable INSPIRE reference platform - ARe3NA). This work will be continued in the GeoDCAT-AP Working Group, supported by Action 1.1 (SEMIC) of the ISA Programme.







Collaborative tools