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European Union Public Licence

2.82/5 | 22 votes


Interested in building solutions by reusing others’ work?

Ready for sharing your successes with other communities, countries, organisations?
This is all about licensing: obtaining open reuse and sharing conditions, securing your own work against exclusive appropriation by third parties, combining multiple components when their licences are compatible.
The European Commission has published the EUPL. Other instruments exist for open data, semantics, collaborative work.                 


For the "non-expert", even lawyer, the world of software and data licensing is a jungle.

When publishing the EUPL, the European Commission has paved the way for legal interoperability. The EUPL is the first open source licence with a working value in all EU official languages. The EUPL is now used by European and national administrations, and by enterprises as well.
The EUPL is one of the preferred licences on JOINUP, but it is not the only one: for licensing software you may use any other "OSI approved" licences (about 60 models, including the GPL, LGPL, BSD, Apache, Artistic etc.).
For licensing data, you may use other conditions or reuse/adapt the 
ISA Open Metadata Licence.
For managing collaborative work,  you may reuse/adapt the ISA contributor agreement.

For ensuring reuse and distribution of any procured software, you may refer to the ISA Standard sharing and reusing clauses for contracts, which public administrations could use when procuring services. 

The aim of this EUPL community is to address your questions related to Free/Open Source (F/OSS) licensing, to clarify and possibly improve interoperability between the various F/OSS licences and to clarify legal issues. It is to collect and share ideas on the public consultation forum. 



Get involved - Stay informed through the legal support service:

In need of any legal support regarding the licencing of your open source project? Consult the legal expert:
Contact us - select the option 'Question on legal issues'. This service is free. It is not a formal legal advice, but practical support for finding your way into the jungle of licences, and for taking advantage of the multiple cases and documents already submitted or published on Joinup: it may be that your issue has been submitted before; it may be that your problem is documented in one of the published guidelines, case study or analysis. 

You may participate to the forum or Contact us - and select the option 'Question on legal issues' without being formally registered on Joinup. However, in order to contribute to the EUPL community (and submit comments, cases etc.), you need to be a registered user of JOINUP.


The Community's genesis can be traced to the public forum organized by the European Commission after the disclosure of the draft EUPL v.0.1 in June 2005. “What are your views on the Licence? Have you comments on the proposed text or on the principle of a licence that is written with European legislation in mind?” Bernhard Schnittger (IDABC team) asked. This forum generated controversial opinions: strongly against the initiative, or strongly in favour of it. It has a substantial impact on the draft: 10 of the 15 articles were modified and compatibility with the GPL was implemented, producing the EUPL version 1.0 adopted by the European Commission in January 2007 in three linguistic versions (EN/FR/DE).


The next important milestone was the publication of the EUPL in 22 linguistic versions of equal value. All translation reviewers (two lawyers per Member State) and guest experts discussed the text in January 2008. This conference and discussions with OSI (the non-profit organization “Open Source Initiative”) produced the EUPL version 1.1, which is certified by OSI as from March 2009.

On 19 May 2017, the Commission published the EUPL v1.2 that provides a wider compatibility with more other open source licences. The Croatian version is added, making 23 linguistic versions.

Objective and Focus

The objective of the EUPL community is to maintain the focus on F/OSS licensing, applicable to both software and open data, especially by public sector authorities. It is to exchange opinions and experiences, to clarify issues and interoperability, to explore new ideas: according to Article 13 of the EUPL, "The European Commission may publish other linguistic versions and/or new versions of this Licence, so far this is required and reasonable, without reducing the scope of the rights granted by the Licence". The previous EUPL elaboration process has demonstrated that your opinions are important and will be taken in consideration.

The forum is open to all (lawyers, developers, project leaders, but not exclusively). Provide the question is relevant to our focus and fairly presented, there will be no taboo: Has the EUPL its place in the “already too many” circle of F/OSS licences? Is maintaining 22 equivalent linguistic versions sustainable? Should the EUPL compatibility be enlarged to licence X or Y?

In the blog, community members will try to provide each other information related to the EUPL and to F/OSS licensing, that may come from various sources.

Last, let's remember that the objective of the EUPL is not to compete or to replace any existing licence: it is to encourage a new wave of F/OSS licensors, especially among public administrations in Europe. 

EUPL Guidelines

The EUPL guidelines have been updated for version 1.1.  The guidelines are applivable to version 1.2 as well. 


Practical Guide to using Free Software in the Public Sector

Thierry Aimé, member of the team of the French Ministry for the Budget, Public Accounts and the Civil Service, has authored a “Practical Guide to using Free Software in the Public Sector”.

The version 1.31 (June 2010) of this guide, updated with the participation of several contributors, is published on OSOR, in English .


The EUPL community expects facilitating legal interoperability – meaning sharing and reusing copyrighted assets (software and/or data) - between ICT and research projects initiated by both public and private sectors. This should positively impact the number and quality of reusable assets and remove legal barriers that may exist between these projects.

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