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The EU Commission's Digital Agenda Plan
Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 03:16 PM EDT

The EU Commission has just announced its 5-year plan for IT, which they call its Digital Agenda:
The Agenda outlines seven priority areas for action: creating a digital Single Market, greater interoperability, boosting internet trust and security, much faster internet access, more investment in research and development, enhancing digital literacy skills and inclusion, and applying information and communications technologies to address challenges facing society like climate change and the ageing population. Examples of benefits include easier electronic payments and invoicing, rapid deployment of telemedicine and energy efficient lighting. In these seven areas, the Digital Agenda foresees some 100 follow-up actions, of which 31 would be legislative.
What interests us at Groklaw the most on that list of seven areas is interoperability, I'd wager, and here's the goal they set for that:
Improve ICT standard-setting and interoperability

To allow people to create, combine and innovate we need ICT products and services to be open and interoperable.

I can't help but think of Microsoft's recent bragging about not being fully interoperable with Google Docs. I think they're not yet on the interoperability train that is already leaving the station, and I hope they hop on board before it's too late. Meanwhile, ECIS has issued a statement, commending the EU Commission on its Digital Agenda, particularly the part about interoperability:
We're pleased the European Commission has given broad support to interoperability, and gratified it believes government acquisition of software should adhere to open standards.


Here is the ECIS statement in full:
ECIS commends European Commission for its Digital Agenda

BRUSSELS, 19 May, 2010 - ECIS is gratified that the European Commission's “Digital Agenda” released today sets a timetable for making sure that government-purchased software adheres to open standards, so it will work smoothly and easily together, thus ensuring citizens have open access to their governments.

The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) is also pleased that the Commission frowns on software that is hemmed in by closed, proprietary standards.

“As our name suggests, interoperability is a central tenet of our group,” said Thomas Vinje, counsel and spokesman for ECIS. “We're pleased the European Commission has given broad support to interoperability, and gratified it believes government acquisition of software should adhere to open standards.”

The broad-ranging Digital Agenda focuses in part on the importance of making software work together. Among its conclusions are that because all technology is inherently standards-based, “Interoperability between these standards is the only way to make our lives and doing business easier – smoothing the way to a truly digital society.”

The Digital Agenda says member states should by 2013 carry out goals enunciated in April by EU Telecommunication Ministers during their meeting in Spain, whose Granada Declaration calls for the “systematic promotion of open standards and interoperable systems” for governments across the European Union.

“That approach assures that governments will avoid granting a monopoly to a proprietary software company, which can then charge citizens for the software they need to access and interact with their governments,” said Vinje.

Open standards permit inter-operation without the necessity of paying special fees. For example, the common electric plug is designed to an open standard. Anyone may build an electric plug without paying a royalty to design prongs to the right size and shape for a power point. In software, two of the best-known open standards are those that created the Internet and those that created the World Wide Web. Anyone may write software that works on the Internet or the Web, without paying special fees.

“These open standards have transformed the way we do business,” said Vinje of the Web and the Internet. They are clear examples of the way that open standards promote creativity and competition.

“Open standards will help create such things as health records that will be readable anywhere in the European Union, using a variety of software from a number of providers,” said Vinje. “They set the stage for economic growth. We're gratified that the Commission is backing this approach."

Open standards are distinct from “open source.” Using the latter, a group or company makes public the underlying source code of its program. Open standards are aimed at allowing pieces of software to work seamlessly together. Proprietary software business models based on open standards and open source business models both allow a high degree of interoperability and consumer choice. ECIS strongly believes that in adopting measures to implement the Digital Agenda, the EU should take care in ensuring that one particular model is not favoured over another, as long as the aims of openness and interoperability are met.

That last part means that Microsoft could implement an open international standard like ODF if it wanted to, despite being a proprietary software business. So far, it doesn't do so in a way that really works, and the only obstacle I know of, as reflected in their remarks about Google Docs, is a lack of a desire to actually do so.

  


The EU Commission's Digital Agenda Plan | 250 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
corrections here
Authored by: designerfx on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 03:28 PM EDT
and typoes.

[ Reply to This | # ]

newspicks here
Authored by: designerfx on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 03:29 PM EDT
try to include the link if it is the first comment in a thread

[ Reply to This | # ]

off topic comments here
Authored by: designerfx on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 03:30 PM EDT
hat trick.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The EU Commission's Digital Agenda Plan
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 03:34 PM EDT
I think it is a laudable plan. However, I personally would
like M$ to be left at the station. I do enjoy trains rides
and I know with M$ being on the same train, M$ would insist on being both the
engineer and conductor at the same time,
and I most likely would not get where it is that I want to go.

[ Reply to This | # ]

EU Digital Agenda includes accepting software patents
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 03:40 PM EDT
The EU Digital Agenda doesn't contain anything about limiting software patentability while the European Patent Office stands by its policy to grant tons of them and the Federal Court of Justice of Germany declared all software patentable in its country.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Anybody care to explain...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 03:47 PM EDT

...what “Interoperability between (...) standards" is.

Until such time as I see that explained,I consider the
ECIS document an attempt to deceit.

bjd

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not yet on the train
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 03:55 PM EDT
"I think they're not yet on the interoperability train that is already
leaving the station, and I hope they hop on board before it's too late."

I think it's more than that. Microsoft is not yet on board because they hope
that the train will never actually leave the station if they don't get on board.
("But it CAN'T leave if WE'RE not on board...")

In other words, it's not that Microsoft is indecisive (or clueless), it's that
they want to influence events.

MSS2

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • spots ... - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 04:31 PM EDT
The EU Commission's Digital Agenda Plan
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 03:58 PM EDT
"I can't help but think of Microsoft's recent bragging about not being
fully interoperable with Google Docs. I think they're not yet on the
interoperability train that is already leaving the station, and I hope they hop
on board before it's too late"

I beg to differ. I hope they don't catch the train and leave us in peace.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"For example, the common electric plug....."
Authored by: tiger99 on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 05:11 PM EDT
Bad example! With the exception of the UK, which uses a BS1363 plug (actually I think there is a new standard, but it is backwards compatible in every respect), the EU uses a number of different standards, which are only barely compatible with one another. The plug you would buy nowadays will go into any socket, just, but is not necessarily always fit to carry high current without overheating, as certain combinations of plug and socket do not make as good contavt as others. And worse, very much worse, the plug on an appliance which requires a ground (earth) will go into an ungrounded socket.

The IEC did try to introduce a new standard around 1973, which woukld have been used everywhere, including the UK, however it was so ill-conceived and dangerous as to actually be illegal in the UK, so it failed.

Worldwide there are even more, the old UK 5 amp round pin plugs are used in a few countries, the 15 amp in several more, BS1363 in some, then there are the US and Australian standards, and more.....

I guess that politics prevents everyone from accepting the UK standard, which is provably the safest and most robust, especially in its latest version with sleeved pins. But it is scary to see how certain illegal Chinese imports, fraudulently marked BS1363, explode during one of the standard laboratory tests.

On the other hand, as long as you procure a properly engineered adaptor, interconnection between one standard and another should be simple and fairly inexpensive, unlike interoperability in software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Am I the only one who noticed:
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 06:49 PM EDT
"Five-year plan"?

Maybe I'm seeing something that isn't really there. Or, maybe the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Pictures -and- a thousand words
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 19 2010 @ 06:52 PM EDT
At the foot of the Press Release page there is a picture of the Virtuous cycle of the digital economy.
On p.4 of "the text of the communication [pdf, 41pp, 320kB] is another version of that picture.
I do not yet understand this scenario, and will have to pick thru the text to determine how the cancer,
or tooth decay-like inner parts can be cured by a simple Strasbourg Ring of Confidence.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"open" and "standard" not defined
Authored by: ak on Thursday, May 20 2010 @ 01:14 AM EDT
The document does not really define the terms "open" and
"standard". So Microsoft and others can claim that their products are
(not-royalty free) "open" and (industry) "standards" in the
sense of that document.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Protecting their investment
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 20 2010 @ 01:34 AM EDT
With the major IT corps of America having for years invested in political
influence to artificially protect their industry (the concept of 'intellectual
property' comes to mind), this must be somewhat bad news.
Now they will have to 'invest' more in Euro-politicians.
For the American politicians, this is bad news too.
There'll be less 'contributions' floating around.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The EU Commission's Digital Agenda Plan
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 20 2010 @ 06:51 AM EDT
I noticed that ECIS statement did not say anything about
software patents. However, it did say that it's goal is
to allow all people to access without being charged by
proprietary vendors. I wonder, when the EU finally allows
software patents that there will be a provision that
specifically prevents patents from being used as a weapon in
the monopoly wars as far as public interoperability (whatever
that means) goes.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not so fast
Authored by: jvillain on Thursday, May 20 2010 @ 02:33 PM EDT
All of this would be great if it wasn't for the fact that the German courts have just made software patents the law of the land sending a torpedo into all things open over there. Link

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Not so fast - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 23 2010 @ 06:14 PM EDT
The EU Commission's Digital Agenda Plan
Authored by: mashmorgan on Thursday, May 20 2010 @ 10:37 PM EDT
Thank your PJ. You are an international, looking at stuff
outside the US of A which is nice.

Have u noticed the changes in Germany, India and China though
regarding patents?

[ Reply to This | # ]

What bugs me ALSO is the transfer speed
Authored by: IMANAL_TOO on Friday, May 21 2010 @ 01:26 AM EDT
Yes, software patents suck, and I'll happily give that one to Bill Gates. What
bugs me also is the transfer speed of the patents, in case Europe opens up. How
many software patents are there in the US, 500,000, or even a few millions? How
does one expect patent bureaus to even understand 0.1% of these, and in what has
to become in retrospect to the years with patents in the US.

The transfer speed of the patents from the US to EU would choke the system from
the start.

Please, for that reason alone, the patents craze in the EU must stop before it
even begins.



.

---
______
IMANAL


.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Of course Microsoft doesn't want to
Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Friday, May 21 2010 @ 08:59 AM EDT

Microsoft is terrified of having to compete. The only way that they can function
as a company is when they have a monopoly.



---
Wayne

http://madhatter.ca/

[ Reply to This | # ]

DRM
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 21 2010 @ 10:01 AM EDT
Another problem is that they definitely buy into the idea that DRM is a
necessary and integral part of a new Digital Economy or a new Digital Society.
It looks like the latest document doesn't address DRM except indirectly by
advocating international DRM enforcing Intellectual Rights treaties, but they do
explicitly advocate DRM in many of their other documents.

There are "About 2,500 results" for a Google search on
site:ec.europa.eu drm


[ Reply to This | # ]

So the liberal democrats sold out
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 24 2010 @ 04:13 PM EDT
typical

[ Reply to This | # ]

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