Blog post by European Commission Open Source Programme Office

The future of law-making in the European Union – open source, of course!

Published on: 05/08/2022

LEOS 6th webinar The European Commission Open Source Programme Office reflects on the sixth LEOS community webinar and the contribution by Martine Deprez, Director of Decision-making and Collegiality at the Commission’s Secretariat-General.

Ms Deprez gave the keynote speech at the Legislation Editing Open Software (LEOS) webinar on 21 June. In her introduction, she anticipated that multilingualism and artificial intelligence will form part of the future of law-making tools in the European Union.

This insight is in line with the Commission’s open source strategy and is a great encouragement for us at the Open Source Programme Office (EC OSPO). Ms Deprez recognised the significance of the open source approach in LEOS, and highlighted its potential in the digital transformation of law-making for the Commission and beyond.

By establishing a working culture based on open source – the core aim of the strategy – other organisations can be partners in the design, development and roll-out of LEOS. This allows LEOS' development to go faster and creates a much richer solution in collaboration with Member States.

For example, LEOS developers are already exploring ways to use artificial intelligence and the means to make this software multilingual. It is no surprise to us at the OSPO: in both areas, open source is leading innovation. It will give the LEOS team many avenues to explore and strengthens our case.

A native law-maker

As a reminder, our web-based editor for drafting legal texts is known as either EdiT or LEOS. The former is the version installed at the Commission and the Council; the latter is the open source variant.

LEOS facilitates legal drafting and empowers any interested party to contribute to law-making.

Ms Deprez expected the future versions of LEOS to include even more support for teams to collaborate on legal texts. In fact, LEOS' in-depth understanding of the business of drafting law, and its alignment with business requirements, is the result of co-creation and collaboration between law- and policymakers and software developers.

Ms Deprez added that implementing LEOS in the Commission implies a cultural shift, as ‘it creates openness and transparency; it speeds up teamwork in the Commission's core business’. With a LEOS-based EdiT, the Commission will be rapidly moving to a paperless, interoperable, information-rich, law- and policymaking process.

It is of utmost importance, Ms Deprez stated, to decide autonomously on the preferred technology. We could not agree more! Open source empowers its developers and users to have the capacity to determine the scope and pace of development and to decide on the strategic direction.

She further emphasised the importance of security, especially in the current geopolitical context. Security is a tenet of the open source strategy. ‘Being free to inspect and improve, open source offers more options for increasing security. It allows for independent audits and code inspections, so the time and effort spent can be balanced according to needs. This improves security for everyone.’

Growing community of users

In the EU institutions and agencies, LEOS is the fundamental building block for the digitisation of legislative drafting and revision, Ms. Deprez said.

The roll-out of EdiT in the Commission is currently planned to be completed in 2025. In addition, LEOS is increasingly attracting Member States, who have very similar needs and have expressed a firm interest in implementing LEOS. For example, the LEOS team is in discussions with Estonia, Germany, Malta, Slovenia and others.

The excellent experience in working with the government of Spain demonstrates the mutual benefits of this approach. In fact, working together allowed us to introduce new functionalities faster and provided an additional test bed for our developments. Vice versa, Spain benefitted from our expertise in standards (AKN4EU).

‘Collectively, we will ensure that legislation is of high quality and is fit for purpose,’ Ms Deprez said. ‘LEOS can be a text-book example of how to facilitate close cooperation within the Union.’

It would also be a remarkable validation of the open source strategy.