[FSFE PR][EN] EC distorts market by refusing to break free from lock-in

press at fsfeurope.org press at fsfeurope.org
Tue Jul 8 11:26:13 CEST 2014

 = EC distorts market by refusing to break free from lock-in =

[ Read online: https://fsfe.org/news/2014/news-20140708-01.en.html ]

The European Commission has recently renewed its commitment to a
proprietary desktop and secret file formats.The Commission is refusing
to get serious about breaking free from vendor lock-in, and is ignoring
all available alternatives. In doing so, the EU's civil service fails to
practice what it preaches.

In April, the Commission signed two contracts with Microsoft: An
agreement for "high-level services"[1] worth 44 million Euro, and a
framework agreement on software licensing conditions[2]. The actual
licenses are provided by Hewlett-Packard under a separate contract from
2012[3], worth 50 million euro. The contracts cover the Commission
itself, and 54 other EU organisations.

    "We are extremely disappointed about the lack of progress here,"
    says FSFE president Karsten Gerloff. "The Commission has not even
    looked for viable alternatives. Its lazy approach to software
    procurement leaves the Commission open to allegations of inertia,
    and worse."

The Commission recently admitted publicly for the first time[4] that it
is in "effective captivity" to Microsoft. But documents obtained by
FSFE[5] show that the Commission has made no serious effort to find
solutions based on Open Standards. In consequence, a large part of
Europe's IT industry is essentially locked out of doing business with
the Commission.

In a strategy paper which the Commission released[6] in response to
official questions from MEP Andersdotter, the EC lays out a three-track
approach for its office automation platform for the coming years. This
strategy will only deepen the Commission's reliance on secret,
proprietary file formats and programs.

    "The Commission should be setting a positive example for public
    administrations across Europe," comments Gerloff. "Instead, it
    shirks its responsibility as a public administrations, and simply
    claims that such alternatives don't exist. Even the most basic
    market analysis would have told the Commission that there's a
    vibrant Free Software industry in Europe that it could have relied

Many public organisations in Europe are successfully using Free Software
solutions that implement Open Standards. Examples are the German city of
Munich with its internationally recognised Limux project, and the UK
government, which has made great strides in using Free Software and Open
Standards to obtain value for money in IT procurement. Over the years,
many of these progressive organisations have asked the Commission for
practical and moral support[7] for their course. This latest move by the
Commission will seem a cruel joke to them.

Despite this setback, FSFE will continue to work with the Commission,
and help it improve the way it buys software. It could do so by relying
on specifications and standards rather than brand names, by using an
open call for tender instead of talking to a single vendor, and by
figuring future exit costs into the price of any new solution. These
practices are fast becoming the norm across Europe's public sector. The
EC should practice what it preaches, and adopt these practices for its
own procurement.

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 1. http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:140675-2014:TEXT:EN:HTML
 2. http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:140672-2014:TEXT:EN:HTML
 3. http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:105131-2012:TEXT:EN:HTML
 4. http://download.fsfe.org/policy/procurement/201401.EC_Future_Office_Automation.pdf
 5. http://download.fsfe.org/policy/procurement/
 6. http://download.fsfe.org/policy/procurement/201401.EC_Future_Office_Automation.pdf
 7. https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/news/mayor-munich-eu-laptops-should-have-libreoffice-or-openoffice

  == 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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