Code for standards

Study: ‘Promote public sector use of open source implementations of ICT standards’


European public services should be encouraged to use open source implementations of technical specifications, an EC-commissioned study concludes. The Commission should support this with guidelines and by promoting best practices.

Overall, the EC should actively improve interaction between open source communities and standardisation organisations, as this benefits the European Digital Single Market. “Driven by the adoption of cloud services, open source will continue to be the source of innovation and the foundation for new markets and ecosystems, because they allow for the combination of different pieces or components that other solutions do not allow,” the study says.

The study ‘Standards and Open Source: Bringing them together’ suggests practical ways to strengthen the interaction between standardisation organisations and open source. The report includes actions to improve the integration of open source communities in the standards-setting process.

The report by OpenForum Europe (OFE), a think tank, recommends that the EC promotes public sector use of open source implementations of technical specifications. Such guidelines, supported with success stories, would extend the EC’s current work on identifying ICT specification for referencing in public procurement.

Examples could include open source implementations of standards for electronic signatures and for document interoperability, Carlo Daffara, one of the OFE researchers involved in the study, told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.

In general, the relationship between open source and standardisation bodies could be better, the study concludes. The Commission must make sure there is a bidirectional exchange of knowledge and practice.

Several vertical colored bars, using arrows to describe a standard setting process
OASIS ‘Open Project’ aims to align its standards-setting process with open source communities


OFE recommends the EC actively reaches out to open source developers at conferences and events to make them aware of the importance of standards. It suggest that the EC organises a session that brings together several thousands of open source developers, to speak about the importance of standards for their work. Long-term, the EC could set up meetings or working groups that involve standardisation organisations and open source developers. Another option would be for the EC to fund training of open source experts on how to get involved in standardisation.

More information:

OFE study ‘Standards and Open Source: Bringing them together’
Announcement by the EC

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