Dutch EU Presidency concludes Open Source in Government conference: EC announces Open Standards Definition


Nov 18: The conference "Open Standards and Libre Software in Government" held in coordination with the Dutch Presidency of the European Union in The Hague concluded successfully today. Keynote speakers on behalf of the Dutch prime minister's Innovation Platform and the office of the Irish prime minister urged governments to consider open source software in spirit of inter-agency collaboration. The European Commission launched its definition of Open Standards, and several representatives of EU ministries announced major national open source and free software efforts.


Open standards and Free/Libre/Open Source software is of critical importance to governments across Europe, which was reflected by the keynote speakers. Frans Nauta, Secretary of the Innovation Platform chaired by the Dutch Prime Minister, emphasised the need for collaboration between governments and citizens and lauded the open source movement as a model for open cooperation. Colm Butler, director of information society policy for the department of the Irish Prime Minister urged the open source community to make technical matters easier to understand for decision-makers. 


In the session on interoperability and open standards, Barbara Held from the European Commission's IDA (Interchange of Data between Administrations) Unit announced their definition of Open Standards, which require the “intellectual property - i.e. patents possibly present - of (parts of) the standard to be made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis”. It also calls for “no constraints on the re-use of the standard” to be imposed. The definition is part of the European Interoperability Framework just published at


Among other speakers, Christian Hardy from the French ministry of finance presented the large migration of over 100 000 desktops to OpenOffice, the free software alternative to Microsoft Office, across the national French Administration. Rolf Theodor Schuster, CIO at the German Foreign Ministry presented a live demonstration of the fully open source desktop and server system that secures the global German embassy network.


Additionally, the vice-mayor of The Hague, and representatives from government authorities in Vienna, London, Haarlem and the Union of Italian Provinces described their open source experiences and future plans.


The event was organised by MERIT, University of Maastricht under the FLOSSPOLS project supported by the 6th Framework IST / e-government Programme European Commission, the Dutch Ministries of Economic Affairs and of the Interior, and the Dutch Government's OSOSS Programme.

More information and the conference programme is available at the conference website,

Pictures taken during the conference. © Herman Pijpers, MERIT. Publication permitted.



Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, Project leader, FLOSSPOLS

MERIT, University of Maastricht, PO Box 616, 6200MD Maastricht, Netherlands

Tel: +31 6 29 07 44 87. Fax: +31 43 388 4905. e-mail: