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14 June 2010, 10:58

European Commissioner: "Choosing open standards is a very smart business decision"

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Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda and former Competition Commissioner, told a conference in Brussels that "choosing open standards is a very smart business decisions". Kroes, speaking at last Thursdays Open Forum Europe, is reported as saying that "Public and private procurer's of technology should be smart and build their systems as much as possible on standards that everybody can use and implement without constraints".

In her previous role, Kroes took on Microsoft and says she "had to fight hard for several years until Microsoft began to license missing interoperability information" but felt that complex anti-trust investigations and the ensuing court proceedings were "perhaps not the only way to increase interoperability", suggesting that legislation may be considered to enforce interoperability obligations. Kroes and the Commission are also considering ways to make it more beneficial for companies to license information, but that "would probably be limited to certain types of IT products". She hopes that the European Interoperability Framework V.2, which has seen its controversial contents leaked during drafting, will help governments avoid being locked in by proprietary software vendors.

She also plans to make it easier for governments to specify open standards when they call for tenders. Currently legislation says that buyers can only require open standards from recognised standards bodies such as ETSI, ISO or national standards bodies. Kroes wants to change that to allow industry standards from consortia such as the W3C, ECMA or OASIS, which meet the criteria for "openness, consensus, balance and transparency" to be on an equal footing with the recognised standards bodies. "We want to make standard setting more efficient, not more burdensome".

Kroes is also reported as favouring open source saying that when users have a choice between "the one that you can download from the Website and that you can implement without restrictions, or the other one which you have to buy, which is restricted to certain fields and which requires royalty payments for embedded intellectual property rights – the answer is obvious."

The full text of the speech is available.

Updated for clarity and with a link to the full text of the speech.


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