European Parliament criticized for not using open standards

By EDRi · March 12, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

A public petition was initiated by OpenForum Europe, The European Software
Market Association, and the Free Software Foundation Europe asking the
European Parliament (EP) to change its ICT system in order to allow the
adoption of open standards.

The petition specifically points to the fact that the live web streaming
from the European Parliament’s plenary sessions is currently only available
to those using Microsoft’s Media Player. Also, it appears that members of
the European Parliament are unable to “access documents sent to them in
formats adhering to Open Standards, including the ISO standard for
electronic office documents, the Open Document Format (ODF) – the primary
format for an ecosystem of office productivity applications.”

Graham Taylor, Chief Executive of OpenForum Europe said: “The benefits of
the Internet were achieved from open standards, freedom of access,
participation for all, innovation where it really mattered. Not proprietary
lock-in and monopoly. Government and Parliament need to show leadership in
ensuring full participation for all its citizens.”

The petition explains that the EU Public procurement laws are based on the
principles of transparency and non-discrimination, but the usage in the EP
ICT systems of a proprietary solution with closed formats just means that
“the European Parliament is dependent on a single vendor and that companies
cannot freely compete on merit to provide applications and services.”

Pieter Hintjens, General Secretary of Esoma explains, “Small businesses are
moving to modern open standards like Open Document Format, yet to write to
their MEPs they have to switch back to old proprietary formats? The EP
should lead the way in open government, starting with open standards for
documents and recordings.”

The petition is supported by the Green MEPs in the EP. In a press conference
organized on 6 March, Green MEP David Hammerstein, spokesperson for the
Greens in the Petitions Committee said: “The European Parliament must
practice what it preaches. We support the “Open Parliament” petition because
we believe the current situation of a Microsoft monopoly has a negative
impact on participatory democracy, innovation and competition.”

Green MEP Eva Lichtenberger, vice-president of the Green Group in the EP
expanded the topic to web-related monopolies :”We are confronted with a very
problematic situation on the Web and also concerning hardware: Monopolies
are gaining ever more influence – the latest news about Google taking over
DoubleClick and a possible absorption of Yahoo by Microsoft are two such
examples. Monopolies tend to loose flexibility and in the end to block

The latter declaration is in line with the recently adopted Declaration on
“Standards and the Future of the Internet” adopted in Geneva on 25 February
2008 by the members of the OpenForum Europe Conference.

The signatories support the idea that “Open Standards already underpin the
success of the Internet, and acts as an exemplar to the market on what is
important, and what is possible when full competition and innovation is
unleashed.” Therefore they pledge to maintain the openness and integrity of
the Internet as enjoyed today.

Open Parliament – Petition to the European Parliament on the implications of
ICT lock-in for participative democracy and for competition (6.03.2008)

Declaration for open standards in the internet passed (29.02.2008)

Declaration Standards and the Future of the Internet” (25.02.2008)

Complaint Lodged Over EU Parliament’s Exclusive Use Of Microsoft Systems

New petition calls for open standards in the European Parliament (6.03.2008)

Greens call for end of Microsoft monopoly in the European Institutions