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Information on Land: Initiatives and Visions. Amsterdam, 1. December 2009 Dr. Helmut Auer Consultant. To my person: Lawyer and IT-expert Former judge and public prosecutor Former Director and Chief Information Officer of Federal Ministry of Justice (BMF), Austria

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information on land initiatives and visions

Information on Land:Initiatives and Visions

Amsterdam, 1. December 2009

Dr. Helmut Auer


To my person:
  • Lawyer and IT-expert
  • Former judge and public prosecutor
  • Former Director and Chief Information Officer of Federal Ministry of Justice (BMF), Austria
    • Main responsibility in 80‘s and 90‘s:Transition of Land Book and Business Register from bound volumes to computerized system
  • Lector at the University of Vienna (Faculty of Law)
  • Representative of BMJ in EULIS-Board
  • After retirement: Consultant (BMF, CLC),

The content of my speech is based on research of my own and presents my opinion as independent consultant.

My opinion may differ from that of the EULIS-Board, of the e-justice-project or any other project.

“Information on Land” presumes that such information has been gathered, stored and can be retrieved
  • The reasons for doing this are various
    • Land is scarce: Under normal circumstances one cannot produce new land. Administration of the shortages is a necessity.
    • Remedy against bad memory: Who owns what? Conservation of the status quo for long periods
    • Remedy against useless/missing markings in nature:Where are the boundaries? Error prone descriptions in contracts, like “100 steps from the big oak, then to the west…”Error prone hiking maps: At the crossing the tree with the white/red/white marking was cut down!
eGovernment Declaration on eGovernment, approved unanimously in Malmö,Sweden, on 18. November 2009

Why eGovernment?

  • e-Justice and all IT-applications within Land Administration are part of eGovernment
  • Recommendations, Rules, Visions and Initiatives of e-Government apply to e-Justice and Land Administration as well
eGovernment (as defined by the Austrian Federal Chancellery)
  • eGovernment includes the totality of all electronic public administration services. With it the access to and the contact with public authorities should become easier.
  • eGovernment is a synonym for a modern and innovative state in which quality, trust and speed are central elements.
  • The main principles are:
    • to be able to do electronically inquiries or to file an application
    • to be able to electronically receive information at any place
    • to ease the handling of procedures of offices/agencies of the state
  • The means to achieve this are:
    • change of law/provisions
    • change of the stately organisation
    • use of modern Information and Communication Technologies
Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment

“We recognise that eGovernment has not only become mainstream in national policies but has also reached beyond national boundaries to become an important enabler to deliver European-wide policy goals across different sectors, from justice to social security, to trading business services and beyond.”

“Joint Vision and Policy Priorities for 2015We aspire to a vision whereby European governments are recognised for being open, flexible and collaborative in their relations with citizens and businesses. They use eGovernment to increase their efficiency and effectiveness and to constantly improve public services in a way that caters for users’ different needs and maximises public value, thus supporting the transition of Europe to a leading knowledge-based economy.”

Ministerial Declaration on eGovernment (cont.)

“Mobility in the Single Market is reinforced by seamless eGovernment services

for the setting up and running of a business and for studying, working, residing

and retiring anywhere in the European Union

Our public administrations should therefore:

  • Develop cross-border eGovernment services that are based on real social and economic needs. We will initiate joint projects of cross-border eGovernment services based on specific needs. Sectoral projects would benefit from synergies with other sectors and the reuse of existing infrastructures rather than developing specific sectoral-based solutions.”
Cadastre - Land Book

Land Register and/or Land Administration consists of two areas:

  • a “geographical” one (INSPIRE would say: “spatial”) and
  • a “legal” one

Ad 1: In the “geographical world” facts/data are collected, mostly from nature, like coordinates of the boundaries of a parcel, the usage of land and so on, or data which is attached to the land by other authorities like the address or a postcode,

=> Cadastre 1)

Ad 2: “Legal”2) should express in short that rights between equal partners based on Civil Law are administered like ownership, mortgage or servitude

=> Land Book

1) Cadastre means in German/Austrian administrational language every systematic collection of data in form of a register or dictionary like wine cadastre, tax cadastre etc. So the correct term here would be “parcel cadastre”.

2) Larsson, G. uses the term “legal records” in Land Registration and Cadastral Systems: Tools for land information and management. Longman Scientific and Technical, Essex, England, ISBN 0-582-08952-2

  • „Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council 14 of March 2007 establishing anInfrastructure for Spatial Information in the EuropeanCommunity (INSPIRE)”
  • INSPIRE entered into force per May 15th, 2007
  • Article 1:„The purpose of this Directive is to lay down general rulesaimed at the establishment of the Infrastructure for SpatialInformation in the European Community (hereinafter referred toas Inspire), for the purposes of Community environmentalpolicies and policies or activities which may have an impact onthe environment.”
INSPIRE (cont.)
  • To ensure that the spatial data infrastructures of the Member States are compatible and usable in a Community and transboundary context, the Directive requires that common Implementing Rules (IR) are adopted in a number of specific areas (Metadata, Data Specifications, Network Services, Data and Service Sharing and Monitoring and Reporting).
  • These IRs are adopted as Commission Decisions or Regulations, and are binding in their entirety. The Commission is assisted in the process of adopting such rules by a regulatory committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission.
INSPIRE (cont.)

Annex I:

  • Coordinate reference systems
  • Geographical grid systems
  • Geographical names
  • Administrative Units
  • Addresses
  • Cadastral parcels
  • Transport network
  • Hydrography
  • Protected sites
INSPIRE (cont.)

Annex II:

  • Elevation
  • Land Cover
  • Orthoimagery
  • Geology
INSPIRE (cont.)

Annex III:

  • Statistical units
  • Buildings
  • Soil
  • Land use
  • Environmental monitoring facilities
  • Production and industrial facilities
  • Agricultural and aquaculture facilities
  • Area management/restriction/regulation zones and reportingunits
  • Natural risk zones etc.
INSPIRE (cont.)
  • Data harmonization and specification in Europe
  • Cross border use, European wide use is simplified
    • But only in the “Geographical World” (with stress on environmental issues)
  • Link to Land Book may be parcel or address (of the spatial object, not the address of the owner)
  • Parcel is an
    • „Area (scil. of the earth’ surface) defined by cadastral registers, or equivalent”
    • The cadastral parcel can be used as a locator. Besides differences between countries in definition, coverage and quality of the (elements of the) cadastral parcel, the parcel is basically the smallest spatial object that is widely used across Europe for numerous applications in national spatial data infrastructures
    • Change to full vector data representation till 2016
  • ELRA (European Land Registry Association) started in 2004 with 12 members; it now has 25 organizations representing the land registries of 20 Member States.
  • ELRA wants to underline the significance of Land Registries in Europe as juridical institutions and the scope of the effects of registration pronouncements as a fundamental tool for progress and change in the rule of law in the field of property and rights on immovables.
  • The primary purpose of ELRA is the development and understanding of the role of land registration in real property and capital markets. Equally, ELRA is fully committed to work on behalf of Land Registries in Europe in cooperating with the EU institutions.
ELRA (cont.)
  • The 10th General Assembly of the European Land Registry Association has approved the creation of the European Registry Network:
  • This website aims at providing the general public with relevant and useful information about land registration within the European Union, offering factsheets and other resources to better understand the registration systems of the different jurisdictions.
  • It is also the purpose of this website to create an effective network for the collaboration of all registry related institutions, fostering the debate and exchange of ideas and experiences among the registry operators throughout Europe.
ELRA (cont.)
  • A network of Registry Contact Points will be articulated via this website to provide an easy and effective hub where information and assistance requests from users and officials of one country will be forwarded to the intended recipient of another.
  • Work is in progress to construct the website; the public presentation of the Network will take place during the 11th General Meeting of ELRA to be held in Madrid - Spain, in May 2010.
FIG - International Federation of Surveyors
  • FIG was founded in 1878 in Paris and was known as the Fèdèration Internationale des Gèometres, now anglicized.
  • FIG represents more than 100 countries throughout the world, and its aim is to ensure that the disciplines of surveying and all who practise them meet the needs of the markets and communities that they serve.
  • The current work plan, titled “Building the Capacity”, focuses on the surveyor’s response to social, economic, technological and environmental change.
  • Ten commissions lead FIG’s technical work. Detailed information on the work of the commissions, their work plans, working groups, seminars, newsletters and publications can be found at
FIG (cont.)

The commissions in short:

  • Commission 1 - Professional Practice
  • Commission 2 - Professional Education
  • Commission 3 - Spatial Information Management
  • Commission 4 - Hydrography
  • Commission 5 - Positioning and Measurement
  • Commission 6 - Engineering Surveys
  • Commission 7 - Cadastre and Land Management
  • Commission 8 - Spatial Planning and Development
  • Commission 9 - Valuation and the Management of Real Estate
  • Commission 10 - Construction Economics and Management
FIG (cont.)
  • Commission 7:“Cadastre, land administration and land management; development of pro poor land management and land administration; development of sustainable land administration as an infrastructure for sustainable development to underpin economic growth; applications of innovative and advanced technology in cadastre and land administration; promoting the role of surveyors in land administration matters to the public and stakeholders.”
  • Commission 9:“Valuation; investment in real estate and investment planning; real estate investment vehicles; real estate, development finance and land use feasibility planning; real estate economics and markets and market analyses; management of property and property systems; management of public sector property.”
FIG (cont.)
  • At the XX. FIG Congress 1994 in Melbourne, Australia, Commission 7 a Working group (7.1) was given the task to study cadastral reform projects in developed countries:“Two elements had to be considered in detail: the on-going automation of the cadastres and the increasing importance of the cadastre as part of a larger land information system. Based on trend analysis, the working group produced a vision of where cadastral systems might be in twenty years, of the changes that might take place, of the means by which these changes can be achieved, and of the technology to be used to implement these changes. The mission of the working group was named ‘Vision Cadastre 2014’ to underpin the task to create a vision of how cadastres might work and look like twenty years from the outlook of 1994.”
FIG (cont.)

Vision Cadastre 2014 - Statements

  • Cadastre 2014 can replace the traditional institutions of 'Cadastre' and 'Land Book‘ 1). It represents a comprehensive land recording system.
  • Cadastre 2014 will show the complete legal situation of land, including public rights and restrictions! To provide security of the land tenure, all facts about land must be made obvious by the cadastral system of the future.
  • The correct treatment of the legal aspects of land property transfer matters was ensured by the requirement of a license for land surveyors and by the special education of notaries and lawyers. In the future these roles will be seriously changed

1) The original text uses the term “Land Register”

FIG (cont.)

Vision Cadastre 2014 - Statements

  • Surveying and mapping will change to modern modelling. No longer drawing in different scales - instead vector based systems.
  • The modern cadastre will use modern Information Technologies instead of “paper and pencil”.
  • Cadastre 2014 will be highly privatized! Public and private sector are working closely together! The private sector will gain in importance. The public sector will concentrate on supervision and control.
  • Cadastre 2014 will be cost recovering! The investment and operation costs of the cadastre have to be paid back at least partially by those who profit.
FIG (cont.)

Vision Cadastre 2014

  • adds some principles
    • Identical procedures for private and public land objects
    • Cadastre 2014 expects that every right adjudicated to a legal land object will be registered officially and becomes valid with registering
      • Not explicitly mentioned but this means a ban of “Prior Lien” (German: Vorzugspfandrecht). In most cases such liens are not registered but are in the ranking topmost and with the settlement on first position, for example “privilege des salaires” in France or taxes in some countries.
FIG (cont.)

Vision Cadastre 2014 takes in account internationalization only considerating economies:

  • “Frequently the production, marketing, service, research and development units of international companies are situated in different regions and countries around the world. The expenditures for acquisition and sale of land are growing. For international companies it is easier to deal with land matters when national cadastral systems differ little from each other.
  • A cadastral system publicizing the complete legal situation of land will diminish the risk of financial loss. With a single request interested people and institutions can get complete documentation about the situation of a certain piece of land.”
  • Eurogeographics was built to further the development of the European Spatial Data Infrastructure through collaboration in the area of geographical information, including topographic information, cadastre and land information.
  • Today more than 30 cadastres are member of EuroGeographics.
  • Their vision is to achieve ‘interoperability’ of their Members’ national land and geographic information assets in order to provide Europe with an information asset that will support its goal to become the most competitive and sustainable economy in the world.
  • Their objectives are to:
    • provide a single interface to and a united voice for Europe's National Mapping and Cadastral Agencies
    • create, maintain and distribute harmonised and small and medium scales topographic reference datasets and related services to support immediate cross border or pan-European customer requirements
    • help the European Commission with its programmes and directives.
EuroGeographics (cont.)
  • Projects and Services, for example
    • EuroDEM – a digital representation of the ground surface topography of Europe
    • EuroBoundaryMap – 1:100 000 scale administrative and statistical unit dataset covering 39 countries
    • EuroGeoNames - is a pan-European web service providing the definitive and authorative place names for Europe.
EuroGeographics (cont.)
  • Projects under way
    • ESDIN is European Spatial Data Infrastructure, working to help implement INSPIRE Annex I data specifications and to provide working INSPIRE services from the participating partners.
    • EuroGeoNames (EGN) provides a distributed multi-lingual geographical names data network for Europe.
    • The State Boundaries of Europe vision and long term goal is to compile a multipurpose State Boundaries of Europe Dataset, as the “definitive” description of the national boundaries of European countries.
  • EuroGeographics established the Cadastre and Land Registry Group (Head Peter Laarakker)
    • development of a new vision statement for cadastre and land registration in Europe by 2012.
EuroGeographics (cont.)
  • Vision on Cadastre and Land Registration in Europe by 2012.

“The Cadastre and Land registry organizations of Europe will provide state of the art services to the Real Property and land information market within the e-government framework by co-operating in the building of national and European Spatial Data Infrastructures.”

  • Challenges
    • Emerging cross border real property markets in Europe
    • Development of national and European spatial data infrastructures
    • Increasing needs for integrated information and services
    • The ever widening role of Cadastre and Land Registry organisations
    • Building-up public-public and public–private partnerships
    • Implementing the role in securing rights to real property
    • Access to land and to tradable real property assets for social and economic development
EuroGeographics (cont.)
  • Vision on Cadastre and Land Registration in Europe by 2012.

The Cadastre and Land Registry organisations are committed to providing ‘state of the art services to the Real Property and land information market within the e-government framework by co-operating in the building of national and European Spatial Data Infrastructures’

  • By 2012 Cadastre and Land Registry organisations in Europe will:
    • Provide state of the art services to the real property and land information markets: One-stop-service-portals, electronic acting
    • Co-operating in building the National and European Spatial Data Infrastructure
    • Supporting the European policies
    • Building an efficient and effective organisation
    • Assisting Cadastre and Land Registry organisations in developing countries and transition economies
Permanent Committee on Cadastre in the European Union
  • Under the auspices of the Programme of Activities of the Spanish Presidency of the E.U., PCC was founded in 2002 by 15 European cadastres
  • Objectives
    • Constitution of a network of information on Cadastre to facilitate the exchange of information, expertise and best practices among the members of the Permanent Committee on Cadastre: Surveys and questionnaires.
    • Studies and proposals for a debate of future European regulations affecting territorial data bases.
  • Specialization:
    • Focusing the work exclusively on the Cadastre and on the users of cadastral information.

UNITED NATIONS – Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE)


Working Party on Land Administration

  • Forum for studies, questionnaires, exchange of best practises
  • Recommendations for countries in transition
  • Glossary of terms from Land Book/Cadastre
  • Study/Overview about Land Books: John Manthorpe
Council of Europe
  • The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg (France), covers virtually the entire European continent, with its 47 member countries. Founded on 5 May 1949 by 10 countries, the Council of Europe seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.
  • Former Committee on "Computer and Law" (successor "e-justice")
    • Appendix: Examples of non-judicial tasks of which judges in some states could be relieved according to the particular circumstances of each country:

Land registry (control over registration of transfer of property, of charges over immovable property)


In 2000 representatives of some European land books found that

  • the land book is underrepresented in the land register world
  • professionals which need information about foreign land have problems:
    • to find the official, authentic source of information
    • to understand an excerpt of the foreign land book
      • written in foreign language
      • describing unknown legal constructs
    • to handle contracting (access and billing) in case of online inquiries because multiple (and different) contracts are necessary for multiple foreign land books
EULIS (cont.)

The ideas realized by EULIS as solution for these problems were:

  • the national Land Book where the professional has already an account (access and billing) should be the entry point also for access to and billing by foreign land books
    • the end user gets only one bill about all national and all foreign inquiries
  • the national land books adapt their output – if possible – to an English version
  • these national land books get connected in a network (EULIS portal)
  • after choice of foreign land book by end user data transfer happens only between the chosen land book and the end user (no interference with EULIS portal)
  • each land book describes its legal and organisational system according to a framework developed by EULIS and edits translation and interpreting help
    • called Reference Data by EULIS
    • the end user can read this in the EULIS portal
EULIS (cont.)
  • The founding members found it obvious that the status quo of the land registries has to be accepted:
    • no harmonisation possible
    • adaptation only technically for connecting to EULIS
  • Each land book describes its legal and organisational system according to a framework developed by EULIS and edits translation and interpreting help
    • called Reference Data by EULIS
    • the end user can read this in the EULIS portal
EULIS (cont.)
  • is already running
    • everybody can use a functioning system
  • it is live
    • the end user can really inquire foreign land books in real time
  • cadastral data and maps are included
    • when the land book is linked to (e.g. Austria) or organizational combined with the cadastre (e.g. Netherlands)
  • the EULIS system is simple and open to all modern land book applications
  • the running of the system is cost effective because of the simplicity
    • web site plus content management software
    • linking mechanism (web services)
EULIS (cont.)

Main problems are not found within the EULIS system:

  • The national land book has to be adapted by
    • establishing of the linking/connecting mechanism
    • establishing of the billing procedure
    • changing the menus and query masks to English
    • and if possible – changing the output to English
  • The national land book has to produce the Reference Data

This all is time consuming and costly, has to be funded by the national land book.

  • will establish in each member state one national portal
  • where the end user
    • can get legal information about foreign justice systems
    • can be connected to a foreign land book
  • The main difference between EULIS and e-Justice is the entry point:
    • EULIS: professionals use their existing entry point of their national land book
    • e-Justice: the citizens use as entry point the national e-Justice portal
  • The main problems of e-Justice are identical to that of EULIS !
  • Plus one specific problem: More than 50% of all land books in Europe are not managed/supervised by the Ministries of Justice but by the Ministries of Environment, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Finance …
Cooperation e-Justice - EULIS
  • Entry points of both systems can work in parallel
  • Reference Data can be found using both entry points
  • both entry points give the user the choice of foreign land book


  • to minimize work and cost at the land book
    • adaptation and
    • content management

should be done only once!

That means

  • one centralized system for Reference Data and CSM
  • decentralized access control and billing
  • output design identical (per specific land book)
  • To use the budgets of the described initiatives more effective
    • close cooperation is necessary,
    • synergies should be utilized and
    • parallel development avoided
  • What I am missing

is a European legal act like INSPIRE which regulates the data structure and data specification of the land book plus common rules for the inspection of the data. In the future a harmonisation of the law of real property, of civil law will happen. The Treaty of Lisbon can be the basis for such a development.