Public administrations are improving their opinion on open source, finds Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes. In a video speech addressing an open source software conference taking place later this month, she says: "We do not yet have a true level playing field, but thankfully attitudes are changing."
The speech by the EU Vice President was posted yesterday on the web site of the Guadec open source software conference taking place in The Hague, Netherlands on 26 to 30 July.
Public administrations earlier were discouraged from selecting software on merit, Kroes says in her speech. They would worry about support and were weary of legal issues concerning intellectual property. "Open source was something to be used at home, as a hobby."
Now, according to the EU Vice-President and European Digital Agenda Commissioner, many large public organisations in the EU are using open source. She points for instance to the use of Linux by the city council of Munich in Germany and to the open source policies by the UK and the Dutch governments. "The top three countries for open source activity in the EU are France, Spain and Germany. And with such big countries in the lead, the momentum for open source is set to keep on growing."
Kroes says that these public bodies "are pleased with the results. The reason is not only good value for money, which is critical in today's financial situation, but also more choice. There is lower dependency on certain vendors, and lower switching costs."
She also refers to the European Commission's OSOR, saying it raises awareness and helps to increase the reuse of open source solutions across European public administrations. "Another example is the EUPL, which under a EU legal framework, allows for easy licensing of open source software."
She expects that the EU's e-Government plans will significantly change how open source is seen by public administrations. "The digital agenda for Europe is raising the stakes. We are aiming at a more strategic approach to interoperability and standards, and emphasising the important link to public procurement."
Open desktop day
The Guadec conference is meant for developers and users of the Gnome open source desktop environment. The conference starts on 26 July with presentations on the use of open source in public administrations, 'The GNOME Open Desktop Day'. One of the presentations will be on the use of open source by the government of Andalucía, one of Spain's autonomous regions.