[FSFE PR][EN] Petition calls for Open Standards in the European Parliament

press at fsfeurope.org press at fsfeurope.org
Thu Mar 6 16:42:38 CET 2008

New petition calls for Open Standards in the European Parliament 

                                                    Brussels – 6 March 2008. 

At a time when the EU Commission investigates the anti-competitive
behaviour of a market-dominant player, the European Parliament (EP)
still imposes that same specific software choice on both the European
Union's citizens and its own MEPs.  OpenForum Europe, The European
Software Market Association, and the Free Software Foundation Europe
today launched a petition to call on the EP to use Open Standards so
that all citizens can participate in the democratic process.

Graham Taylor, Chief Executive of OpenForum Europe says: "The benefits
of the Internet were achieved from Open Standards, freedom of access,
participation for all, innovation where it really mattered.  Not
proprietary lock-in and monopoly.  Government and Parliament need to
show leadership in ensuring full participation for all its citizens.

Pieter Hintjens, General Secretary of Esoma explains, "Small businesses
are moving to modern Open Standards like Open Document Format, yet to
write to their MEPs they have to switch back to old proprietary formats?
The EP should lead the way in open government, starting with Open
Standards for documents and recordings."

Ciaran O’Riordan, FSFE adds, "If our elected representatives don't like
a software package or its terms of use, they should be able to choose
another software package.  This issue and the promotion of Open
Standards must be tackled together to get past a chicken and egg
problem: Not being able to choose your software often means you're stuck
with one vendor's proprietary format, and using that proprietary format
means you, and everyone you communicate with, is shoe-horned into using
the same vendor's software.  For FSFE, it is important that MEPs be able
to choose Free Software."

The signatories are encouraging citizens and other stakeholder groups to
publicly support the objectives of the petition by signing up on


It is the right of all citizens to be able to freely communicate with
their elected representatives, and have full and free access to the
proceedings of Parliament. In today’s electronic world of the internet,
email and video streaming, citizens rightly have high expectations on
the European Parliament to ensure full participation without technical
restriction.  Yet it is a fact that the domination of current suppliers,
unless challenged, does impose unnecessary restriction, forcing citizens
to purchase specific software, maintaining lock-in to that supplier and
limiting competition and choice.

Openness is all about the freedom to innovate, integrate and
participate. For example there are already internationally approved
standards for document exchange, supported by a multitude of competitive
main stream products - yet these standards are unsupported by the
European Parliament, which instead only supports products based on
proprietary protocols. Not only does this potentially increase cost,
restrict access and impact social inclusion, but it restricts the
opportunity to take advantage of new innovation offered by tomorrow's

The co-signatories of this Petition call on the European Parliament to
open up their IT systems, maximising the use of Open Standards and
ensure full democracy for its citizens.

About OFE

  OpenForum Europe is not-for-profit, independent of any organisation
  and was launched in March 2002 to accelerate, broaden and strengthen
  the use of Open Source Software in business and government. OFE
  pursues the vision of an open, competitive European IT market by 2010
  in line with the European Commission i2010 Strategy, with the mission
  of facilitating open competitive choice for IT users. OFE is supported
  by major IT suppliers and works closely with the market, both direct
  and via national associates and partners. www.openforumeurope.org

About Esoma

  The European Software Market Association (Esoma) is the voice of the
  independent IT firms, professionals, and consumers. Founded in January
  2007 by the FFII, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the removal
  of barriers to competition in IT and largely responsible for the
  rejection of the EU software patent directive in July 2005, Esoma
  promotes healthy practices on the software market. Esoma fills the gap
  for a European trade association speaking specifically for SME IT
  firms.As a not-for-profit organisation, it is mostly funded from
  membership fees and donations. www.esoma.org

About FSFE

  The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit
  non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and
  involved in many global activities. Access to software determines
  participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in
  the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free
  Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the
  furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study,
  modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these issues,
  securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving people
  Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central issues
  of the FSFE.

For further information please contact:

 Graham Taylor, Chief Executive of OFE, +44(0)1372 815168
 Pieter Hintjens, General Secretary of ESOMA, +32 (0)475 235 984
 Ciaran O’Riordan, FSFE, +32(0)477 364 419

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