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The people of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), see ourselves as Europeans from different cultures with the shared goal of co-operation across cultures and of developing a common culture of co-operation from a regional to a global level.
We form a non-profit non-governmental organisation and network that itself is part of a global network of people with common goals and visions. We are not representative for anyone but ourselves and our work. Our common work and dedication to freedom in all aspects of digital society is what defines us.
With the Free Software community growing faster every day, it becomes more important to keep the vision of Free Software healthy, solid and alive. In some cases, increased political interest in our issues also creates desire to exploit them for particular personal interests regardless of the medium- and long-term effects.
Therefore, the central component of our work is keeping the legal, political and social base of Free Software strong, secure and free of particular interests. This requires deep understanding of Free Software and related issues. Above all it requires being primarily committed to the long-term vision.
We understand this sometimes means having to accept short-term or even medium-term disadvantages in order to remain true to our principles, which may be hard to communicate and occasionally even unpopular.
We feel strongly committed to the principles of democracy, transparency, pluralism, consistency, reliability and focus.
In the light of substantial legal responsibilities and the need to remain decisive even in difficult times, our structure aims to implement the above principles as well as possible.
Voluntary work and contribution is the fundamental on which everything rests. Different levels of involvement exist; level of involvement is primarily a personal decision.
Everyone is welcome to occasionally, regularly or permanently participate in the activities of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and make its activities their own.
If you wish to become part of the Free Software Foundation Europe, you can join one of our teams -- either geographically or by focus -- and take responsibility to work and act in the name of the FSFE.
The country-based teams are generally co-ordinated by the members of the association (see below) responsible for these countries. The other teams are either co-ordinated by members of the association, members of the teams or members of an associated organisation (see below).
If your association pursues similar goals to those of the Free Software Foundation Europe and wishes to establish formal co-operation, it can become an associate organisation of the FSFE, thus becoming part of the FSFE network.
The skeleton of the Free Software Foundation Europe is the formal and legally established association with its chapters in the member countries. Membership in this association requires the highest commitment, measured in years of dedication and the responsibility to put long-term consensus over personal opinion.
The FSFE association is fundamentally democratic. All parts of the FSFE -- members of the association, members of the teams, as well as fellows and members of associate organisations -- are welcome to actively participate in the decision making process.
Members of the association are usually proposed by members of the teams and the associate organisations from their countries. They are then approved by the general assembly of the FSFE association.
Although voluntary contributions in terms of work and resources are the grounds of our work, we recognise that some of these tasks cannot be undertaken as part-time activities and therefore require full-time work.
Normal employees of the Free Software Foundation Europe are part of the executive only and do not become part of the general decision finding processes.
Any decision about employment/payment must ultimately be agreed upon by the general assembly of the members of the association.
The main criterion for these decisions are the needs of the Free Software Foundation Europe in terms of successfully pursuing its goals. Whenever possible, we try to hire a person for each job that has already done the job without getting paid -- either within the FSFE structures or outside -- because knowledge, dedication and initiative are virtues of the FSFE.
Ideally we will allow someone to dedicate themselves fully to a task that was already important enough to them to contribute much of their available resources.
The people of the Free Software Foundation Europe believe in consensus. We always seek to base our work on the consensus -- and sometimes compromise -- of our active members.
Also, we believe it is occasionally necessary to make quick and decisive actions. For this reason we have established the FSFE association and its extended executive committees at European and national levels. These provide fall-back structures and procedures that are determined, monitored and controlled through democratic processes.
This approach was adopted in search of a structure that will allow transparency, pluralism and participation, at the same time remaining as lightweight as possible.
It ensures the possibility of participation by all parts of FSFE. Members of the association, members of the teams and members of associate organisations can all participate. This allows the Free Software Foundation Europe to act quickly when necessary and maintain a strong organisational long-term consistency.