The European Parliament should use free software and open standards for all of its ICT systems and data, concludes a study by the EP’s Greens/European Free Alliance: “That is the most appropriate way for the Parliament to meet its own standard of ‘utmost transparency’.”
The Parliament should give priority to technologies that allow others to work with the Parliament’s systems and data, the study concludes, even if that would cost extra. “This view is fully in line with new EU rules on public procurement that allow for the taking into account of environmental and social considerations and innovation in the awarding of public contracts.”
The study was published on 12 December. It was written by lawyers experienced with free and open source, Carlo Piana and Ulf Öberg. “The principle of openness should guide Parliament’s choices of IT hardware and software systems and, as technology evolves, these choices should be continuously and pro-actively reassessed”, the two write.
As a matter of principle, the European Parliament should also avoid being locked-in by its IT solutions, the two lawyers argue in their report. “Lock-in and vendor dependence are difficult to reconcile with the principle of openness and of "utmost transparency" to which Parliament has committed itself”, they conclude. They refer to studies, including by the European Commission, that point out that to avoid IT vendor lock-in, organisations should use open standards.
A draft of the report was made public in October. A second edition is foreseen, mainly for corrections. The report has meanwhile been delivered to Giancarlo Vilella, head of the European Parliament's IT organisation.
The report was welcomed by the Free Software Foundation Europe. “This study sends a strong signal that Free Software and Open Standards are essential for the European institutions to fulfil their transparency obligations,” FSFE president Karsten Gerloff was quoted as saying in a statement on 12 December.