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IEA: EU Parliament advances in strengthening the role of Free Software, yet needs more to improve

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The two EP Committees for opinion, IMCO and LIBE, have today adopted their texts on the Interoperable Europe Act. While both recognise the importance of Free Software for this regulation, the inclusion of the Free Software community in the Board remains uncertain. The wording on proper monitoring and evaluation goes in the right direction.

European building with the European Parliament symbol

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) have today adopted by a large majority their opinions on the Interoperable Europe Act.

The IMCO Committee, following some of our demands, has highlighted the need for public bodies and institutions to prioritise the use of Free Software in order to support the creation of reusable solutions. Furthermore, it has also recognised our demand for clearer objectives and indicators to assest its achievement. Moreover, it has included measures to report and monitor the number of Free Software solutions developed and adopted by the public sector within the scope of the Regulation.

Unfortunately, no amendments to include more stakeholders in the Interoperable Europe Board were adopted, apart from the proposal to include the European Parliament as an observer. Therefore, it is now up to the lead Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) to take further steps forward in the direction of enriching the Board.

On the other hand, the LIBE Committee has briefly included the wording to encourage Free Software solutions when it comes to enhancing transparency in the processing of personal data within the scope of this regulation. However, this wording still needs to be improved by more firmly prioritising the use of Free Software for such purpose.

Lina Ceballos, FSFE Project Manager states: “We welcome that the European Parliament has taken notice of some of our demands, especially when it comes to proper monitoring and evaluation. However, there is yet the need to include more stakeholders in the governance. Thus we urge decision makers to recognise the role that the Free Software community could play in the Interoperable Board".

In the coming weeks, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) will agree on its text, which will most likely be voted in plenary after the summer break, and then enter into the inter-institutional negotiations. We call upon the decision makers to not only anchor the progress that IMCO and LIBE have achieved with their opinion but also to undertake the actions needed for a more inclusive governance approach by including the Free Software community as part of the Interoperable Europe Board. This is also true for the Council, that wants to exclude relevant stakeholders from contributing to an Interoperable Europe.