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Council to exclude relevant stakeholders from contributing to an Interoperable Europe

Avaldatud:

The current draft from the Council on the Interoperable Europe Act is limiting the Interoperable Europe Board, and with this excluding relevant stakeholders from contributing to a more interoperable and innovative Europe. There is also a lack of improved wording in the area of monitoring and budgeting.

EU building with flags from the different EU countries

The Interoperable Europe Act is aiming to enhance cross-border digital public services across the European Union. This proposal is currently discussed in the European Parliament and the Council. Through a Freedom of Information request, the FSFE caused access to the latest compromise text (.pdf) of the Council.

From this draft, it gets clear that the Council is seeking to limit the overall participation in the Interoperable Europe Board by hindering the possibility to include experts and other stakeholders with observer status in such board. This not only goes in the completely opposite direction of our demand for more inclusion of different stakeholders – especially the Free Software community – but it also undermines the position of the Expert Group on Interoperability of European Public Services.

This Expert Group consists exclusively of representatives of public authorities and they demanded (.pdf) back in 2021 to work “closely with different stakeholders”. Some of them “private partners, local entities (e.g involving regions, municipalities), EU standardisation and other international organistations (OECD, UN, international standardisation bodies, etc.) as well as citizens’ representatives depending on the subjects to be handled”. With the current proposal, none of these stakeholders could even be invited to a board meeting nor be an observer, as proposed by the European Commission (.pdf).

The European Parliament would also not be part of the Interoperable Europe Board, which the Parliament's rapporteur, Ivars Ijabs -Renew Europe member- understandably changes in his draft report (.pdf) by suggesting to give the Institution a seat. Members of the European Parliament, like Jordi Solé on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group, also call for the inclusion of Free Software communities, which is mostly in line with our demands.

Furthermore, the Council has failed in defining Open Standards, while doing very little to improve the way monitoring will be carried out after such legislation comes into force. The Council has also not taken note of the need for a proper budget allocation that will assist public administrations in executing the activities that will follow with this Act. At least a definition of ‘Open Source licence’ includes the four freedoms has been introduced [Art. 2 (8b)]. This underlines the strong link between Free Software and interoperability.

As the European Parliament will agree on its draft position on the Interoperable Europe Act in the coming weeks, we urge EU lawmakers to address this matter by improving the Commission’s proposal, in order to ensure a robust and inclusive governance structure in which different stakeholders, including the Free Software community, can be part of the Interoperable Europe Board. A proper monitoring workflow and evaluation together with a dedicated budget are also very much needed to move forward. Right now, Europe has the chance to pave the way for a legislation that allows efficient, innovative cross-border administration by recognising the crucial role that Free Software and its community play in interoperability.