Benjamin-Nicolau 's

Environm Ciencia, Tecnologia y Economia

UE Union Europea Codigo Abierto software open source

Posted by benjamin-nicolau en marzo 16, 2008


Open Source Software within the European Commission –

a co-ordinated strategy


European public administrations were among the early adopters of Open Source Software (OSS) and were already running OSS-based systems and applications in the late 1990s. The European Commission was among those leading the way: it went for a systematic approach as early as 2000 when the Directorate-General for Informatics (DIGIT) produced a strategy document concerning the use of OSS by the Commission services.

Today, the Commission services run a multitude of OSS-based applications. They initiate and sponsor new OSS projects for internal and/or external use. The basis of these activities is a co-ordinated strategy which is consistently revised to keep up with the evolving process of OSS and related market developments.

Strategic approach 2000-2007

In 2000, the Commission defined a pragmatic strategy concerning the use of OSS products by the Commission services. This strategy allowed, for example, the recognition and use of the Apache Web Server as a recommended solution on UNIX systems. It was also recommended to further investigate Linux.

In 2003, a revised version of the OSS Strategy Document was approved by the Commission’s IT community.  The approach was confirmed and more ambitious objectives were defined.

The rationale behind the strategy is to “formally allow and encourage” the use of Open Source Software where “a clear benefit can be expected”.  Benefits can be financial, technical or tactical, such as:

        Improvement of the development process through adoption of the typical OSS community approach;

        Broader choice of solutions, reducing captivity towards any particular product. This will also yield better positions when conducting procurement procedures;


        Faster and cheaper delivery of IT services by customisation and deployment of OSS solutions as opposed to full-scale development;

           Improvement of the IT staff skills through hands-on experience with emerging technologies.        

This approach led to some important achievements, the most prominent being the recommendation of Linux as server OS and the implementation of CITnet, the Commission’s internal collaborative software development platform.

2007 onwards:  towards a more dynamic and pro-active approach

On 14 February 2007 the Commission’s IT community approved a new strategy document and an associated work plan for the period 2007-2009. This decision was preceded by a thorough consultation within the community.

The key items of this current policy are as follows:

    The Commission services use OSS where a clear benefit can be expected.


     The Commission will consider OSS solutions the same way as proprietary ones in IT procurements. Contracts will be awarded on a “value for money” basis. Not only licence costs ,but also setup, maintenance, support and training costs must be considered.


        For all future IT developments and procurement procedures, the Commission shall promote the use of products that support open, well-documented standards. Interoperability is a critical issue for the Commission, and usage of well-established open standards is a key factor to achieve and endorse it.

            For all new development, where deployment and usage is foreseen by parties outside of the Commission infrastructure, Open Source Software will be the preferred development and deployment platform.


As the OSS market matures and internal experience and expertise with OSS increase, the Commission intends to extend its strategy in order in to create a true professional environment supporting the use of OSS. 

The main topics to be addressed are:

        The Commission will clarify the legal framework around the internal use of OSS. Main topics to be addressed are: licensing schemes, equal opportunities in the context of procurement and participation in OSS communities.


        Governance is essential to management of ICT; this applies to OSS as well as to any ICT asset. The current evolution of concentrating on solutions instead of on products will apply to OSS as well. The Commission will develop guidelines and best practices allowing the setup of OSS and mixed solutions covering the full set of needed professional services, including scalability, reliability, manageability, security, support and training and the deployment of OSS solutions in the Commission’s data centre.

        The Commission will further adopt and implement the best practices and proven tools from the OSS communities’ development collaborative process.

             OSS plays an important role in e-Government projects and interoperability in the broader sense. Now that DIGIT has taken over the responsibility for the IDABC programme, this scope of activities as well as the coordination of the internal and external OSS strategies will be reinforced


The ICT ecosystem is extremely dynamic, innovative and impacts many areas of the Commission’s policies. In this context, the Commission’s IT community will closely work together with other Commission services responsible to the information society, the internal market, competition and industrial policy.


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