The European Commission Reinforces Its Strategy on Free Software: Now Let's See Some Action

The European Commission has published a new version of its Free Software Strategy for the 2014-2017 period 1. This strategy largely builds on the previous one while adding a more affirmative attitude towards Free Software. This declaration of intention must now be followed by concrete action to organise the deployment of Free Software within the Commisison.

The European Commission strategy is a ten-point program, largely similar to the previous version's ten points. Most of the notable enhancements are as follows.

  • Better consideration of Free Softare in procurement (proposition 2). Giving Free Software a chance is a start, but a more voluntary policy must follow. In this respect, proposition 4 (already in the previous version) suggests giving Free Software priority in certain areas.
  • A step towards the use of software which supports truly open formats; but one must remain careful about this, especially considering how version 2 of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) backpedaled on interoperability.
  • A will to facilitate participation in Free Software communities outside the Commission.

The suggested improvements are in line with the French Ayrault circular [fr] on the proper use of Free Software by government services. Yet, this strategy should be welcomed with moderate enthusiasm as long as it isn't transformed into tangible action. Let us hope this new version of the strategy will motivate as many developers and public servants in the Commission as possible to develop and promote the use of Free Software.

Still, much is left to be done to achieve real public policy in favour of Free Software.