Digital Agenda for Europe : interoperability in principle, but not in practice?

Paris May 19th, 2010. Press release.

The European Commission released this Wednesday its communication on the Digital Agenda for Europe 1. Our concerns came true as « open standards », which ensure real interoperability, were excluded from the digital and political landscape of Europe.

La Quadrature du Net published a press release entitled Digital Agenda: Caution required for the future EU Net policies, which explains how we avoided the worst on some aspects regarding the protection of basic freedoms.

Nonetheless, on interoperability2 the European Commission seems to have chosen the side of obscurantism and of acceptance of de facto monopolies over transparency, openness and healthy competition in technological fields.

Indeed, open standards were excluded from the final version of the communication 3. The ambition of promoting a competitive, innovative, open and inclusive information society was sacrificed on the altar of proprietary software lobbies, just like France did in 2009 with the RGI (General Interoperability Framework).

« We regret that Commissioner Neelie Kroes' approach in favor of open standards and interoperability was not supported by the other Commissioners in charge of the issue » declared Frédéric Couchet, Executive Director of April.

In the absence of a clear reference to open standards the digital agenda still identifies an interesting leverage to promote competition and reduce the risks of monopolistic situation : public procurements referring to « standards [...] which can be implemented by all interested suppliers »4. 2011 should reveal whether this statement of principle will resist to pressure from proprietary software editors or not.

« We will pay attention during the next steps of the process to make sure that the Digital Strategy in Europe promotes the development of real interoperability. It is the key factor for the economic and social development of the European information society » added Tangui Morlier, President of April.

About April

Pioneer of free software in France, April has been since 1996 a major player in the democratization and the spread of Free Software and open standards to the general public, professionals and institutions in the French-speaking world. In the digital era that is ours, it also aims to inform the public on the dangers of an exclusive appropriation of information an knowledge by private interests.

The association is made up of more than 5500 Free Software authors and users.

Press Contacts :

Frédéric Couchet, Executive Director, +33 660 688 931

  • 1. English version of the communication(PDF) et French version of the communication (PDF)
  • 2. a main issue, quoted at the very beginning of the communication: The overall aim of the Digital Agenda is to deliver sustainable economic and social benefits from a digital single market based on fast and ultra fast internet and interoperable applications.  
  • 3. in the English version of the communication the wording is  based on standards and open platforms  (instead of  open standards  even though in the French version, it was translated as  reposent sur des normes et des plateformes ouvertes  - which could be translated as based on open platforms and standards
  • 4. Point 2.2.2.