The European Union should encourage the use of free software, for example by setting quotas in public procurement and financing its development, says France’s Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Conseil économique, social et environnemental, or CESE). The constitutional consultative assembly sees free software, sharing and reuse as strategic parts of the European digital culture.
European promotion of free software would ensure interoperability and encourage collaboration, CESE argues, and increase the role of civil society in government.
On 13 March, the council published its European Digital Sovereignty Policy, a compilation of recommendations to reinforce Europe’s role in a world dominated by American and Chinese digital services and platforms. European digital sovereignty is at stake, CESE concludes.
The council calls on the EU to place sovereignty at the heart of its digital model, to enforce free and fair competition, and to fight fiscal injustice. “The EU should have its own digital approach, focusing on an open and decentralised Internet that supports European actors, uses free software, and builds a position in high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and blockchain,” CESE says.
CESE’s European Digital Sovereignty Policy contains 14 recommendations focusing on strengthening regulations for digital platforms and promoting a digital ecosystem with European principles and values.
April's, France’s main free software advocacy group, welcomed the CESE recommendation. “It acknowledges that a policy on digital sovereignty requires the use of free software, and supports its development. Governments can use this advise to give priority to free software in public services,” a spokesperson told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory (OSOR). “That includes France, which should decisively support free software, and the Interministerial Digital Directorate (Dinsic) should stop recycling twenty-year old doubts.”