= FSFE welcomes revised European Interoperability Framework =

[permanent URL: www.fsfe.org/news/2010/news-20101216-01.en.html]

The European Commission today published its long-awaited revision of
the European Interoperability Framework [1]. This document aims at
promoting interoperability in the European public sector. The document
is the result of a prolonged and hard-fought process. Free Software
Foundation Europe accompanied this process and offered input to the
European Commission at various stages [2].

“During the history of the EIF, we had reason to worry that Free
Software would effectively be shut out of the European public sector.
FSFE has worked hard to prevent this, and we have succeeded,” says
Karsten Gerloff, FSFE’s President. “With this document, the Commission
shows that it is willing to lead. We will support and accompany the EC
in this effort.”

We are happy that the effort which FSFE has invested in the EIF revision
process has brought results. The document has improved markedly over
previous versions [4] from a Free Software point of view:

– The document explicitly states that Open Standards [5] (called “open
specifications”) must be implementable in Free Software.
– The document states that public administrations should prefer Open
– The document calls on public administrations to reuse and share
solutions. Free Software is by far the most practical way to achieve this.

Some points of the document could be improved. There is considerable
wriggle room for public bodies to avoid making changes to inefficient IT
systems and practices.
The document’s definition of “open specifications” demands that such
standards must be implementable in Free Software, but allows the patents
in those standards to be licensed under so-called FRAND conditions. Such
FRAND conditions normally make it impossible to implement a standard in
Free Software [6]. FSFE will closely accompany the European Commission
in reconciling this apparent conflict.

“While FSFE would have wished for a more forceful push for Open
Standards and Free Software, we congratulate the EC on producing a
useful document out of a heated debate”, says Gerloff.

This document ties in with the Commission’s eGovernment Action Plan,
announced yesterday, which makes Open Standards a political priority for
European Member States and defines clear actions and deadlines. As a key
action, national governments are expected to align their national
interoperability frameworks with the EIF by 2013.

FSFE has visualised the changes among the various versions of the
document [4]. This has been a key tool for many people’s work on EIFv2.
The table is currently being updated to reflect the final version of the

2. http://www.fsfe.org/news/2009/news-20091127-01.en.html
3. http://www.fsfe.org/projects/os/bsa-letter-analysis.en.html
4. http://fsfe.org/projects/os/eifv2.en.html
5. http://fsfe.org/projects/os/def.en.html
6. http://www.fsfe.org/projects/os/bsa-letter-analysis.en.html#3

== 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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