December 16, 2010

EU interoperability enforcement attempts to catch up with Asia

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Brussels, 16 December 2010 – The European Commission adopted a communication “Towards interoperability for European public services”, introducing the second incarnation of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) and the European Interoperability Strategy (EIS) [1]. This week the Commission also published fresh Horizontal Guidelines [2] which bloc-exempt patent cartels from competition enforcement.

“The European Interoperability Framework is a legend. It’s hard, indeed, to make impact that compares with the first EIF. Unfortunately the lobby watered European interoperability enforcement down. It’s amazing that EU-Commissioner Šefčovič overcame indecision, and presents their ‘wet’ documents.”, says FFII Vice-President Rene Mages.

The 2004 European Interoperability Framework (EIF) 1.0 was well received globally, and faced fierce opposition from interoperability laggards. It laid down the term “Open Standards” as it is used by digital natives [4]: Open standards do not require licensing and can be implemented without restrictions and tolls. The EIF 1.0 inspired many software procurement policies of third nations. Since the release of the EIF 1.0 emerging powers have become significant players for software interoperability. Last month India released an strong open standards policy [5].

“What counts are actual interoperability achievements, not terminology struggles. We are satisfied that our proposals for a focus on identification of barriers and facilitators are considered”, explains FFII General Secretary André Rebentisch. “Meanwhile India steals the show from Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič, and China is highly aware to shield control of its critical information infrastructure.”

Openness of public information infrastructures and the potential to undercut vendor lock-in and e-barriers remains a challenge for both administrations and markets. The European Commission faces increasing regulatory competition with Asian ICT markets in the field of interoperability enforcement.

[1a] Communication “Towards interoperability for European public services” and annexed EIF 2.0 and EIS:
http://ec.europa.eu/isa/strategy/index_en.htm

[1b] EU press release – Towards interoperability for European public services
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/1734

[2] EU press release Commission DG Comp Horizontal Guidelines
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/1702

[3] FFII Ten Recommendations on an earlier draft
http://action.ffii.org/eif

[4] Definition of Open Standards
http://www.digistan.org/open-standard:definition

[5] Indian policy on open standards for e-government
http://egovstandards.gov.in/approved-standards/egscontent.2010-11-12.9124322046/at_download/file

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Board: Benjamin Henrion (be), Rene Mages (fr), Stephan Uhlmann (de), André Rebentisch (de), Alex Macfie (uk)

The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in several European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 1000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusive rights in data processing.