The use of open source gives the member states of the European Union many economic benefits. This concludes a recent study on the use of open source in the European Union by the European Commission in collaboration with Fraunhofer ISI and think tank OpenForum Europe. Unfortunately, there are also some drawbacks.
The report shows, based on 2018 figures, that companies and developers involved in open source contribute significantly to the development of the economy in the European Union (EU). The companies and developers themselves have invested a total of 1 billion euros to start their own development activities in the field of open source. This work yielded the economy within the EU member states of at least 65 and 95 billion euros.
Additionally, a 10 percent increase in the number of open source developers in the European Union would generate between 0.4 and 0.6 percent more gross national product (GNP) annually. If this translates into companies, there will be around 600 new ICT start-ups within the EU each year.
The research also shows that the UK (a former member of the European Union) provides the most open source specialists and developers. Germany came in second, followed by France and Italy. The Netherlands is in fifth place.
Despite all the good numbers mentioned above, researchers also see some shortcomings that have a slight negative impact on the use of open source within the European Union. Especially when it comes to the use of open source by European governments. According to the report, they invest far less than what using open source can yield. They may see the use of open source as a risk factor.
And the actions of the European public sector to use open source are not always effective, even in the area of procurement. According to the European Commission, open source will only be used convincingly by public institutions if it forms an important part of the digital transformation.
Moreover, the implementation of legislation to regulate the use and reuse of open sources within the public sector appears to be ineffective. Often there is no evidence describing concrete implementation of this legislation.
Naturally, the report makes recommendations to further stimulate the development and use of open source within member states. Specifically, they advise, among other things, that the public sector should be “educated” when it comes to seeing open source as a risk factor.
The researchers also recommend access to so-called open source project offices (OSPOs). These OSPOs should encourage and support the use of open source throughout the European Union. The use of open source in all initiatives at the EU level will play a role, as in the case of the Green Deal.
Moreover, the EU needs to be more clear about the legal liability of open source developers and other legal issues. This includes the right for customers to make permanent repairs, including software updates, when vendors stop supporting hardware.
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