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Greens/EFA press EP's President on open source

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The Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament are urging their institute to make an earnest attempt to using free and open source software. In a letter to EP President Martin Schulz made public last week Friday, the group links free software and open standards to the organisation's obligations on transparency.

The Greens/EFA point out that rule 103 of the 'Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament' instructs the institute to 'ensure that its activities are conducted with the utmost transparency'. The parliament has twice asked for a study to see how this rule relates to the use of free software and open standards. The Green/EFA group suspects that such a study, "could result in recommendations to what extent the use of free and open source software and open standards is critical to adhere to these principles."

Similar requests were made in May last year and in April this year.

In their letter, the two European groups refer to research that they commissioned this summer "to better understand how we can contribute to the Parliament's efforts in this field". The study, by Mitopics, a Dutch consultancy, also heavily criticises the answers given so far by the EP's IT Department, DG-ITEC.

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"The IT Department's report does not provide a full and complete answer", Mitopics writes in their report on 31 October. DG-ITEC's reply does not describe the IT systems, architecture and planning, and it is unclear on development and procurement. The IT department does not describe the EP's dependency on proprietary standards and it is unclear on the use of free software.

The European Parliament also wanted to know if its rules on transparency (Rule 103 of the the Parliament's Rules of Procedure) oblige it to make use of free software and open standards.

The Mitopics researchers say that this would require the IT department to consider all processes, political and organisational, and look at the flow of information, the IT systems, its formats and processes. It would require and inventory, looking at authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of the systems in use at the European Parliament. The researchers say that a study would apply the EP's transparency principles to its information flows, the software it uses and de electronic document formats it uses. "It would result in recommendations to what extent the use of free and open source software and open standards is critical to adhere to these principles."

 

More information:

Letter by the Co-Presidents of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament (PDF)
Mitopics study on free software and open standards in the European Parliament (PDF)
Rule 103 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament
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