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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  2. <html newsdate="2017-02-17">
  3. <version>1</version>
  4. <head>
  5. <title>European Commission responds to the FSFE's information request for Horizon 2020 </title>
  6. </head>
  7. <body>
  8. <h1>European Commission responds to the FSFE's information request for Horizon 2020 </h1>
  9. <p>The European Commission Directorate-General for Research
  10. and Innovation responds to <a href="/news/2017/news-20170110-01.en.html">
  11. a Freedom of Information (FOI) request about the use, development and
  12. release of software under Horizon 2020</a> - submitted by the FSFE on
  13. January 9, 2017.</p>
  14. <p>With this FOI request, the FSFE directly aimed at shedding light on
  15. how much money is spent on the use and purchase of proprietary software
  16. licences through the Horizon 2020 funding for the beneficiary projects.
  17. Respectively, it intended to figure if and what kind of data is collected,
  18. apropos of Free Software licences. The FOI request followed the publication
  19. of the FSFE's <a href="">
  20. position paper for the endorsement of Free Software and Open Standards in
  21. Horizon 2020 and all publicly-funded research</a>.</p>
  22. <p>However, <a href="">
  23. the response by the Commission</a> revealed that no information is being
  24. collected on how the EU funds are being spent, when it comes to the
  25. software used and developed by the beneficiary projects within Horizon
  26. 2020:</p>
  27. <blockquote>
  28. <p>"[...] we checked if the requested information existed and the competent
  29. Commission services informed us that the European Commission does not
  30. systematically collect information about open source software used or
  31. developed under Horizon 2020 grants, as this is not a reporting requirement
  32. in the Horizon 2020 legal basis. Consequently we are not in a position
  33. to provide you the information that you are looking for. The same applies
  34. to data concerning Horizon 2020 projects paying licence fees for software
  35. or developing software on their own."</p>
  36. </blockquote>
  37. <h2>Breaking down the EC's reply</h2>
  38. <p>The EC is justifying the lack of information with the argument that
  39. "it is not legally mandatory" to collect data concerning the use and
  40. acquisition of software licences.</p>
  41. <p>According to the Article 14(1) of the Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013
  42. establishing Horizon 2020, particular attention in the framework shall
  43. be paid to the development and application of key enabling and industrial
  44. technologies as well as future and emerging technologies; and shall
  45. contribute to the Digital Agenda for Europe initiative. Regarding this
  46. particular point, <strong>the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 shall assess
  47. the efficiency and use of resources, with particular attention to cross-cutting
  48. issues and other elements referred in the Article 14(1)</strong>. Software
  49. is no doubt falling under all of the points that Horizon 2020 is supposed to
  50. focus on when it comes to both industrial and emerging technologies, as
  51. well as part of the Digital Agenda for Europe. The absence of monitoring
  52. the use of resources Horizon 2020 projects are allocating to the use and
  53. development of software in Research and Innovation will not allow
  54. to assess the efficiency and use of resources of Horizon 2020 in its
  55. Interim evaluation.</p>
  56. <p>Indeed, in the <a href="">
  57. first Annual Monitoring Report 2014</a> which focuses on the implementation
  58. of the first year of the programme, information regarding the share of
  59. EU financial contribution to the Information and Communication Technology
  60. (ICT) Research and Innovation was missing. According to <a href="">
  61. the second report for 2015</a>, however, preliminary data show that over one fifth
  62. of the EU funding in Horizon 2020 contributes to ICT Research and Innovation. </p>
  63. <h2>What "no information" means for Free Software and Open Science</h2>
  64. <p>The absence of data about the use of software within Horizon 2020
  65. beneficiary projects makes almost impossible the accurate estimation of
  66. the amount of both proprietary and Free Software, being used or developed
  67. under Horizon 2020 grants.</p>
  68. <p>Taking into consideration the fact that nowadays, scientists irrespective
  69. of their field of study depend on software in order to successfully conduct
  70. their research, it is indisputable that almost every beneficiary project
  71. spends a considerable amount of the hand-out grant in the purchase of
  72. software licences. The fact that the EC does not collect data on the
  73. spending of public money for software licences disregards an essential
  74. part of the modern research.</p>
  75. <p>Consequently, without relevant data, Horizon 2020 monitoring and evaluation
  76. processes cannot draw safe conclusions. Critical factors, such as the
  77. re-use of software being developed with Horizon 2020 funding, or the
  78. costs for re-purchasing the same licences cannot be scrutinized and therefore,
  79. cannot lead decision-makers to optimised funding solutions. Albeit, the most
  80. significant complication is the fact that the EC is not in position to
  81. prove with a degree of certainty that Open Access and subsequently
  82. Open Science, two of the Horizon 2020 most fundamental principles, are
  83. implemented in practice. As already argued in the FSFE's <a href="">
  84. recent position paper</a>, Open Science can neither be achieved nor be
  85. sustainable in long-term without Free Software being its chief constituent.</p>
  86. </body>
  87. <tags>
  88. <tag key="front-page"/>
  89. <tag key="openstandards">Open Standards</tag>
  90. <tag key="open-science">Open Science</tag>
  91. <tag key="policy">policy</tag>
  92. <tag key="european-commission">European Commission</tag>
  93. </tags>
  94. </html>