EU Competition Commissioner backs open standards in eGovernment

By EDRi · June 18, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The EU Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, publicly supported the use of
open source software in eGovernment, in a public speech at a seminar hosted
by OpenForum Europe in Brussels on 10 June 2008.

Kroes encouraged the public institutions to use open standards, underlining
the positive example of Munich that have implemented open standards in their
local eGovernment projects. She suggested a much more active role of the
European Commission in promoting open standards in eGovernment applications,
by adopting an internal policy not to buy proprietary software: “The
Commission must do its part. It must not rely on one vendor, it must not
accept closed standards and it must refuse to become locked into a
particular technology.”

The EU Commissioner’s speech shows an indirect support to the Open
Parliament petition initiated in March 2008 by OpenForum Europe, The
European Software Market Association and the Free Software Foundation Europe
asking the European Parliament to change its ICT system in order to allow
the adoption of open standards.

Also Kroes praised the benefits of open standards: “No citizen
or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over
an open one, through a government having made that choice first.” She also
encouraged the business customers to make a difference by promoting open
standards: “I know a smart business decision when I see one. Choosing open
standards is a very smart business decision indeed.”

Kroes mentioned a number of competition cases in ICT that are investigated
by the Commission in relation with ICT standards, giving as examples Apple,
the mobile phone company Qualcomm and chip maker Rambus. Also she clearly
referred to Microsoft when she mentioned the problems with the well-known
fines against the US software producer: “The Commission has never before had
to issue two periodic penalty payments in a competition case.”

Some MEPs wanted to go further and asked the European Commission if
Microsoft could not be banned from the European public procurements, since
it has been fined by the Commission. Heide Rühle, internal market policy
spokeswoman for the Greens in the European Parliament, explained that there
were provisions of the public procurement EU Directive that allow the
exclusion of applicants from public procurement procedures if “they have
been convicted of an offence concerning their professional conduct by a
judgement which has the force of res judicata or they have been guilty of
grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the contracting
authority can justify”.

But the European Commission rejected these arguments in its answer
explaining that, according to the directiv, the exclusion was not
obligatory. EC claimed that the fine did not count as an “criminal
conviction of a criminal offence by a final judgement from a Court”. Also
the second provision should “require a case-by-case assessment which can
only be done in the framework of an on-going procurement procedure.”

Kroes calls for open standards in eGovernment (10.06.2008)

EU’s Kroes: open standards are smart business move (10.06.2008)

European Commission won’t exclude Microsoft from procurement procedures

Written Question: Microsoft – Implementation of Article 93 of the Financial
Regulation (21.04.2008)

EDRi-gram: European Parliament criticized for not using open standards