The European Parliament is increasingly turning to open source, according to a report by the parliament's IT department. This type of solutions are mostly used for development, for application servers and web content management. Open source is also available to those members of the parliament using a laptop configured by the IT department.
"For the past ten years, the European Parliament and in particular the management of information technologies of DG ITEC, has been following the open source route, while conformity with open standards has always been a basic rule for the choice of ICT solutions", the IT department writes in a five page report to the President of the European Parliament.
The report lists four results, including the "gradual replacement of proprietary systems with alternative solutions from the free software community." Second, new requirements at the EP brought about the implementation of open source tools, including for software development, web content management and for managing development projects, as well as the Red Hat Linux operating system.
Third, the EP is participating in the evolution and standardisation of Akoma Ntoso, an XML format of representation for legislative documents, about to become an international OASIS standard. The XML format is used in the EP's AT4AM, software for authoring and management of amendments on parliamentary texts. AT4AM was released as open source earlier this year.
The IT department has, fourth, analysed two competing document standards, Open Document Format and Office OpenXML, assisting the Groupe de Travail de Bureautique Interinstitutionnel (EU working group on interinstitutional office tools). "This study testifies to the difficulty of choosing one of these formats even though both are ISO standardised and to the importance of requirements, the existing documentary heritage and the systems in place when it comes to making a decision."
"It is clear that the challenge for the management of information technologies of DG ITEC is the optimal use of the possibilities offered by open source software currently on the market while respecting open standards which are the basis for the flexible evolution of systems. However, this evolution must be progressive in order not to destabilise the current IT architecture and applications."
The report was forwarded by Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, to Rebecca Harms and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Greens/EFA Group MEPs, last Thursday. It was made public Sunday on the mailing list of the European Parliament's Free Software User Group.