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FSFE welcomes revised European Interoperability Framework (EIF)

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The European Commission today published its long-awaited revision of the European Interoperability Framework. This document aims at promoting interoperability in the European public sector. The document is the result of a prolonged and hard-fought process. Free Software Foundation Europe accompanied this process and offered input to the European Commission at various stages.

"During the history of the EIF, we had reason to worry that Free Software would effectively be shut out of the European public sector. FSFE has worked hard to prevent this, and we have succeeded," says Karsten Gerloff, FSFE's President. "With this document, the Commission shows that it is willing to lead. We will support and accompany the EC in this effort."

We are happy that the effort which FSFE has invested in the EIF revision process has brought results. The document has improved markedly over previous versions from a Free Software point of view:

Some points of the document could be improved. There is considerable wriggle room for public bodies to avoid making changes to inefficient IT systems and practices.
The document's definition of "open specifications" demands that such standards must be implementable in Free Software, but allows the patents in those standards to be licensed under so-called FRAND conditions. Such FRAND conditions normally make it impossible to implement a standard in Free Software. FSFE will closely accompany the European Commission in reconciling this apparent conflict.

"While FSFE would have wished for a more forceful push for Open Standards and Free Software, we congratulate the EC on producing a useful document out of a heated debate", says Gerloff.

This document ties in with the Commission's eGovernment Action Plan, announced yesterday, which makes Open Standards a political priority for European Member States and defines clear actions and deadlines. As a key action, national governments are expected to align their national interoperability frameworks with the EIF by 2013.

FSFE has visualised the changes among the various versions of the document. This has been a key tool for many people's work on EIFv2. The table is currently being updated to reflect the final version of the document.