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Interoperable Europe Act: Committee of the Regions fails to substantially promote Free Software

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The Committee of the Regions approved its opinion on the Interoperable Europe Act. The EU representative body has failed to recognise the importance that Free Software has for interoperability and thus for digitalisation and innovation. This underlines the relevance of the Free Software Community's participation in the planned Interoperable Board.

EU flag with a gavel in the background and the word FAIL stamped over it

With the EU's objective of establishing a legal framework on interoperability through the Interoperable Europe Act, today the Committee of the Regions has adopted its opinion in plenary. While the opinion has feebly mentioned the role of Free Software in achieving cross-border interoperability and avoiding vendor lock-in in its policy recommendations, the Committee of the Regions has failed to substantially improve the original text and bring up more solid and necessary measures. It does not introduce a “Free Software first” approach and the involvement of stakeholders in the Interoperable Europe Board, an intended body that will decide on upcoming steps arising from this legislation.

"It is incomprehensible that the institution that has the responsibility to bring up the demands of thousands of local and regional administrations fails in featuring the importance of Free Software for interoperability. Hence, this decision only reaffirms the importance of the involvement of stakeholders, who have actual competence, in these decision-making processes. We, therefore, urge the European Parliament to include the Free Software community in the Interoperable Europe Board to guarantee sustainability and innovation in digitalisation. Furthermore a 'Free Software first' approach still needs to be introduced", explains Lina Ceballos, FSFE Policy Project Manager.

The role that Free Software plays in the digitalisation of local and regional administrations has been shown to be of great importance, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, it strengthens digital sovereignty allowing administrations to have control over the software they are using, while it enables that public funds are spent in the most efficient way. For these reasons, the FSFE has been demanding with its 'Public Money? Public Code!' initiative that publicly financed software should be made publicly available under a Free Software licence. It is now up to the European Parliament to ensure that interoperability is introduced by a “Free Software first” approach while including the Free Software community on the path to digitalise European public administrations. First amendments in this direction have been introduced already; however, the position has to be further improved. Further read.