Study: To ensure transparency, European Parliament must adopt Free Software, Open Standards
A study released on Friday says that the European Parliament must adopt Free Software and Open Standards in order to fulfil its transparency obligations. The authors conclude that "the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament should whenever possible make Free Software and Open Standards mandatory for all systems and data used for the work of Parliament."
The study, entitled "Ensuring utmost transparency -- Free Software and Open Standards under the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament", was prepared by two legal experts for the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament. Its authors, the legal experts Carlo Piana (Italy) and Ulf Öberg (Sweden), argue that the Parliament is committed to an even higher standard of openness than other EU institutions.
"This study sends a strong signal that Free Software and Open Standards are essential for the European institutions to fulfil their transparency obligations," says FSFE's president Karsten Gerloff. "We call on the European Parliament to implement the study's recommendations at all levels, and as quickly as possible, in particular with regard to access and use of documents, email and encryption, video streaming, and upcoming procurement decisions."
The study lists a number of concrete steps the European Parliament needs to take in order to fulfil its transparency obligations:
- Immediate technical measures includes to enable access and use of documents, email and encryption with and through Open Standards. In other words, the European Parliament must make it possible to work with ODF, IMAP and OpenPGP inside the Parliament. It must also ensure that citizens can use these open standards to communicate with the Parliament, regardless of the software platform they are using.
- When acquiring software and services, the European Parliament should prefer Free Software based on Open Standards. This is not only allowed by the EU's procurement rules, but actually "serves the general economic interest of the EU".
- The European Parliament should continously check that its IT infrastructure and services comply with the Constitutional Principle of Openness and the Parliament's own Rules of Procedure to ensure the utmost transparency.
FSFE and others have repeatedly criticised the Parliament for failing on transparency. Currently, MEPs and parliamentary staff do not have access to a standards-compliant email solution, and live video streams from the Parliament are not accessible for Free Software users.
"The Parliament needs to open itself to the world," says Gerloff. "Live video streams that allow all Europeans to follow the Parliament's work are essential to democracy in the 21st century. Encryption is a necessity to allow the citizens to talk to their MEPs in confidence. Utmost transparency is one of the EU's fundamental principles, and Europeans expect their Parliament to do better in this regard."
The Greens/EFA are soliciting feedback for a second edition of the study.
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