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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
  2. <html newsdate="2009-11-27">
  3. <head>
  4. <title>FSFE: EC caves in to proprietary lobbyists on interoperability</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <h1>FSFE: EC caves in to proprietary lobbyists on interoperability</h1>
  8. <h2>Free Software industry criticises remarks by Commission's Vice
  9. President Siim Kallas</h2>
  10. <p newsteaser="yes">The European Commission (EC) has given in to the demands of
  11. lobbyists for Microsoft and SAP when it revised a key document on
  12. interoperability between electronic government services. The Free Software
  13. Foundation Europe (FSFE) has analysed the evolution of a new version of the
  14. European Interoperability Framework (EIF), showing that Commission has based its
  15. work on the input of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a lobby group for
  16. proprietary software vendors, and ignored the voices of a large part of the
  17. European software industry. At the same time, remarks by the EC's Vice President
  18. about Free Software point to a worrying lack of awareness within the
  19. Commission.</p>
  20. <p>A draft for a revision of the European Interoperability Framework
  21. (EIF) <a href="http://blogs.fsfe.org/gerloff/?p=285">leaked to the press earlier this month</a>. Whereas the earlier version of
  22. the document strongly supports the use of Free Software and Open
  23. Standards in the public sector, the new text only carries a
  24. meaningless description of an "openness continuum", which absurdly
  25. enough includes proprietary specifications.</p>
  26. <p>FSFE has tracked <a href="/activities/os/eifv2.html"><strong>how key parts of the revised European
  27. Interoperability Framework have evolved over time</strong></a>. A version of the document
  28. was the basis of a public consultation in the summer of 2008. FSFE's
  29. analysis shows in detail how from this basis, the views of the BSA
  30. lobby group have influenced the present draft of the text. At the same
  31. time, the European Commission has ignored comments by companies,
  32. groups and individuals in favour of Open Standards and Free Software.</p>
  33. <p>"The European Commission must not make itself the tool of particular
  34. interests. The current draft is unacceptable, and so is the total lack
  35. of transparency in the process that has led to this text," says
  36. Karsten Gerloff, FSFE's President.</p>
  37. <p>On this background, recent remarks by Siim Kallas, the European
  38. Commission's Vice President in charge of administration, show a
  39. worrying lack of awareness of <a href="/activities/os/os.html">Open Standards</a> and <a href="/about/basics/freesoftware.html">Free Software</a> in
  40. parts of the Commission. In <a href="http://www.se2009.eu/en/meetings_news/2009/11/19/press_conference_the_ministerial_declaration_on_egovernment">a high-level press conference</a> (Flash) on November 19 in Malmö, Sweden, Kallas said that he
  41. considered Free Software a problem for "business continuity". He
  42. likened Free Software to a Wikipedia article, saying that "in
  43. Wikipedia text, you see that there are brackets and footnotes, that
  44. information should be confirmed, or should be checked [...], and if
  45. you use open source, if you use the same logic in operational things,
  46. you must have certainty what will happen next."</p>
  47. <p>FSFE is deeply concerned about these remarks. "Mr Kallas is
  48. badmouthing a whole sector of the European IT economy", says
  49. Gerloff. "Either Mr Kallas is actively hostile to Free Software and
  50. Open Standards, or he is entirely ignorant about them. Both is simply
  51. not justifiable in a Vice President of the European Commission in
  52. charge of the EC's administration."</p>
  53. <p>Elmar Geese, Chair of Linux-Verband, a German association of Free
  54. Software businesses with 80 members, shows himself surprised at Mr
  55. Kallas' remarks. "We do not know who advised Mr Kallas to say these
  56. things. To me, this sounds like the propaganda of fear, uncertainty
  57. and doubt from 10 years ago. We invite Mr Kallas to inform himself
  58. about the Free Software industry. I am sure this will change his
  59. mind."</p>
  60. <p>Jan Wildeboer, Red Hat EMEA Evangelist, rejects Kallas'
  61. remarks. "Compared to many proprietary alternatives, Free Software
  62. shows that it not only saves money but also delivers high quality
  63. solutions. The use of Free Software in mission-critical environments
  64. all over the world is proof of its quality."</p>
  65. <p>Such statements from the EC give a boost to the critics of the new
  66. version of the EIF. FSFE argues that the original EIF has served well
  67. as a guideline to the European public sector. Even though it is only a
  68. recommendation, it has become an important reference in Europe and
  69. beyond. If it needs to be revised, the new document should improve
  70. interoperability through reliance on Open Standards, rather than
  71. promote proprietary software and specifications. The Commission should
  72. go back to the consultation document and work from there, making sure
  73. that this time comments from all sides are properly addressed.</p>
  74. <p>Red Hat's Wildeboer shares the criticism: "It is good to see that
  75. EIFv2 is under more scrutiny now. We need a strong focus on
  76. interoperability based on Open Standards. The leaked draft version
  77. shows how a lack of transparency can hurt that goal. Now is the time to ask
  78. some serious questions. I fully trust the Commission to reinstate the
  79. goals of EIFv1. Open Standards and Open Specifications are key to
  80. interoperability."</p>
  81. <p>FSFE's President Karsten Gerloff argues: "If the Member States of the European Union
  82. want to preserve the credibility of European institutions, they should
  83. reject the current draft of the EIF. Instead, they should help the
  84. Commission to build a better one that puts Open Standards front and
  85. centre."</p>
  86. </body>
  87. <tags>
  88. <tag>OpenStandards</tag>
  89. <tag>Policy</tag>
  90. <tag>EIF</tag>
  91. </tags>
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