[FSFE PR][EN] FSFE: European Commission's software contract is a rough deal for Europe

press at fsfeurope.org press at fsfeurope.org
Tue Dec 7 14:25:00 CET 2010

= European Commission's software contract is a rough deal for Europe =

[permanent URL : http://www.fsfe.org/news/2010/news-20101207-01.en.html]

The European Commission will spend EUR 189 million on proprietary
software over the next six years, in direct contradiction to its own
decisions and guidelines. The Commission last week announced a
six-year framework contract to acquire a wide range of mostly
proprietary software and related services [1].

"This is a rough deal for Europe", says Karsten Gerloff, President of
Free Software Foundation Europe. "Instead of coming up with a strategy
to take advantage of Free Software and become independent from
vendors, the Commission is digging itself deeper into the vendor
lock-in hole."

Last week's contract goes against the stated intentions of several
Commission documents. European procurement rules say that public
sector buying practices should "avoid discrimination and open up
public procurement to competition."

The Digital Agenda, published in May 2010, calls for "ICT products and
services" to be "open and interoperable" [2]. A guideline issued by the
EC's OSOR project cites European procurement rules to say that "calls
for tender [...] should be based on functional requirements, not on
specific products or vendors" [3], while last week's contract comes with
a long list of specific products which the Commission wants to buy.

In the Malmö and Granada declarations of 2009 and 2010, the European
Union's member states called on the EC to "pay particular attention to
the benefits resulting from the use of open specifications in order to
deliver services in the most cost-effective manner", and to "[e]mbed
innovation and cost effectiveness into eGovernment through the
systematic promotion of open standards and interoperable systems" [4].

The procurement process was conducted by the Directorate General for
Informatics (DIGIT). This department is also leading the process to
revise the European Interoperability Framework. FSFE has strongly
criticised [5] previous drafts [6] for falling behind the original
version in their support of Open Standards [7] and Free Software [8].

"European citizens expect the Commission to keep its costs low, to
spend their tax money in ways that promote Europe's development, and
to stick to its own policies," comments Gerloff. "This behaviour by
DIGIT fails Europeans on all three counts. It damages the Commission's

== Links ==

  [2] Digital Agenda for Europe:
  [3] OSOR Procurement Guideline:
  [4] Malmö declaration : http://www.epractice.eu/en/library/299149 and
Granada declaration http://www.epractice.eu/en/news/316468
  [5] http://fsfe.org/news/2010/news-20100330-01.en.html
  [6] Comparison of different EIF versions:
  [7] Definition of Open Standards: http://www.fsfe.org/projects/os/def.html
  [8] What is Free Software?

== About the Free Software Foundation Europe ==

  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.


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