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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<html newsdate="2014-07-08">
<version>1</version>
<head>
<title>EC distorts market by refusing to break free from lock-in</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1>EC distorts market by refusing to break free from lock-in</h1>
<p>
The European Commission has recently renewed its commitment to a
proprietary desktop and secret file formats.The Commission is refusing
to get serious about breaking free from vendor lock-in, and is
ignoring all available alternatives. In doing so, the EU's civil
service fails to practice what it preaches.
</p>
<p>
In April, the Commission signed two contracts with Microsoft: An
<a href="http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:140675-2014:TEXT:EN:HTML">agreement for "high-level services"</a> worth 44 million Euro,
and a <a href="http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:140672-2014:TEXT:EN:HTML">framework agreement on software licensing conditions</a>. The
actual licenses are provided by Hewlett-Packard under <a href="http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:105131-2012:TEXT:EN:HTML">a separate
contract from 2012</a>, worth 50 million euro. The contracts cover
the Commission itself, and 54 other EU organisations.
</p>
<blockquote><p>
"We are extremely disappointed about the lack of progress here," says
FSFE president Karsten Gerloff. "The Commission has not even looked
for viable alternatives. Its lazy approach to software procurement
leaves the Commission open to allegations of inertia, and worse."
</p></blockquote>
<p>
The Commission
recently <a href="https://download.fsfe.org/policy/procurement/201401.EC_Future_Office_Automation.pdf">admitted
publicly for the first time</a> that it is in "effective captivity" to
Microsoft. But <a href="https://download.fsfe.org/policy/procurement/">documents obtained by FSFE</a> show that the
Commission has made no serious effort to find solutions based on Open
Standards. In consequence, a large part of Europe's IT industry is
essentially locked out of doing business with the Commission.
</p>
<p>
In a <a href="https://download.fsfe.org/policy/procurement/201401.EC_Future_Office_Automation.pdf">strategy paper which the Commission released</a> in response to official questions from MEP Andersdotter,
the EC lays out a three-track approach for its office automation
platform for the coming years. This strategy will only deepen the
Commission's reliance on secret, proprietary file formats and
programs.
</p>
<blockquote><p>
"The Commission should be setting a positive example for public
administrations across Europe," comments Gerloff. "Instead, it shirks
its responsibility as a public administrations, and simply claims that
such alternatives don't exist. Even the most basic market analysis
would have told the Commission that there's a vibrant Free Software
industry in Europe that it could have relied on."
</p></blockquote>
<p>
Many public organisations in Europe are successfully using Free
Software solutions that implement Open Standards. Examples are the
German city of Munich with its internationally recognised Limux
project, and the UK government, which has made great strides in using
Free Software and Open Standards to obtain value for money in IT
procurement. Over the years, many of these progressive organisations
<a href="https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/news/mayor-munich-eu-laptops-should-have-libreoffice-or-openoffice">
have asked the Commission for practical and moral support</a> for
their course. This latest move by the Commission will seem a cruel
joke to them.
</p>
<p>
Despite this setback, FSFE will continue to work with the Commission,
and help it improve the way it buys software. It could do so by
relying on specifications and standards rather than brand names, by
using an open call for tender instead of talking to a single vendor,
and by figuring future exit costs into the price of any new
solution. These practices are fast becoming the norm across Europe's
public sector. The EC should practice what it preaches, and adopt
these practices for its own procurement.
</p>
</body>
<sidebar>
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<tag key="front-page"/>
<tag key="european-union"/>
<tag key="procurement"/>
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