Our Work

Open Standards

Open Standards allow people to share all kinds of data freely and with perfect fidelity. They prevent lock-in and other artificial barriers to interoperability, and promote choice between vendors and technology solutions. FSFE pushes for the adoption of Open Standards to promote free competition in the IT market, as they ensure that people find it easy to migrate to Free Software or between Free Software solutions.


The relevance of Open Standards is closely linked to networking effects, and has consequently been rising dramatically. The reward for gaming the system for proprietary vendors is increasing, so is the cost for users of software.

Governments, public interest NGOs, including groups that are concerned about freedom of competition or consumer rights are generally strong proponents of Open Standards. Typical critics are the proprietary software vendors and those that represent their interests. One of the items that critics seek to highlight is the inherent conflict between innovation and standardisation.

Standardisation deliberately limits changes to a technological basis, including innovation. These limits are introduced in order to allow subsequent innovation by everyone that has access to the standard and not just the party that controls the technological basis. So standards limit the ability to innovate by a single party in order to allow innovation on the basis of that standard by multiple parties.

Open Standards allow such innovation by all parties with no leverage for the initial developer of the platform to limit such innovation or the competition it represents.

FSFE's goals include freedoms from lock-in, of innovation and competition for everyone. That is why FSFE is a strong supporter of Open Standards.


Publications at the IGF

Publications on MS-OOXML

FSFE's answers to the European Commission's Public Consultation: Revision of the European Interoperability Framework

24 June 2016:

The European Commission is asking for public input with regard to its plans to renew the European Interoperability Framework (EIF). The EIF aims to promote enhanced interoperability in the EU public sector. The document, originally intended as a set of non-binding guidelines for the EU public administration, is going through its third revision since its initial adoption in 2004. The FSFE has prepared its comments for the draft of the revised guidelines.

EU jeopardises its own goals in standardisation with FRAND licensing

28 April 2016:

On 19 April, the European Commission published a communication on "ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market" (hereinafter 'the Communication'). The Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy intends to digitise industries with several legislative and political initiatives, and the Communication is a part of it covering standardisation. In general, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) welcomes the Communication's plausible approach for integrating Free Software and Open Standards into standardisation but expresses its concerns about the lack of understanding of necessary prerequisites to pursue that direction.

Joint statement : Maximising inclusiveness and engagement through the use of Open Standards in the European Commission

25 March 2015:

Today is Document Freedom Day, the international day to celebrate and raise awareness of Open Standards. On this occasion, we would like to reflect on the importance for public institutions in general, and for the European Commission in particular, considering its leadership role, of using Open Standards in all their digital communication and services.

FSFE responds to EU consultation on patents and standards

18 February 2015:

In order to push for a more enlightened policy approach to managing innovation and knowledge, FSFE has submitted a response [pdf] to an EU consultation on patents and standards. This is the latest action in FSFE's ongoing work in promoting Open Standards.

EU to fund Free Software code review

19 December 2014:

The European Parliament has approved funding for several projects related to Free Software and privacy. In the EU budget for 2015, which the European Parliament adopted on December 17, the Parliamentarians have allocated up to one million Euro for a project to audit Free Software programs in use at the Commission and the Parliament in order to identify and fix security vulnerabilities.