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EU Declaration of Digital Rights & Principles: Free Software should be included

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On 26 January 2022, the European Commission presented its proposal for the EU Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles which will serve as a reference point in the future and as a common EU vision of our digital rights. The declaration is now being discussed in the European Parliament and Council, and Free Software should become part of it.

Built on the Berlin and Tallinn declarations, this proposal aims to lay the groundwork for a consistent framework that will serve as a guideline and a reference point for the ongoing and future digital transformation of Europe. These aforementioned declarations already refer to Free Software ("Open Source" in their text) when it comes to digital sovereignty and interoperability, while they also demand more use of "Open Source" and strengthening the requirement for its use.

Public body infrastructure displaying source code

At the moment, the text of the EU Declaration of Digital Rights and Principles is being discussed in the European Parliament and European Council. The FSFE has been following the process and making sure to share its input and demands so that the wording of the final text is in line with previous frameworks with regard to the use and promotion of Free Software.

Recently, the JURI and LIBE committees have agreed on including wording that is aligned with our demands in their amendments to the text. In Chapter II, covering solidarity and inclusion, the LIBE Committee has included a reference on the support of "Open source solutions whenever possible". In Chapter III about freedom of choice and Chapter IV, called Participation in the digital public space, the JURI Committee has included also the promotion of "Open source" standards and a reference to the need of interoperability and transparency of digital technologies via the promotion of "Open Source".

From now on, we will make sure these additions to the text will be defined and clarified, and that they find their way into the final position of the European Parliament. It is important that Free Software becomes part of this declaration because it may guide Europe's digital transformation into an empowering, transparent, and open environment.

For the last five years, the FSFE has been advocating for publicly financed software made publicly available under a Free Software licence. With its Public Money? Public Code! initiative, the FSFE has the goal, among others, to raise awareness of the benefits that Free Software can offer such as saving long-term costs, boosting the local economy, transparency, and more. Including Free Software in the EU Declaration of Digital Rights and Principles would be an important milestone for software freedom and for Europe's digital sovereignty.