ISA² - Interoperability solutions for public administrations, businesses and citizens

Open Source software for editing legislation

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2016.38 Legislation Interoperability Tools - LegIT

When is this action of interest to you? 

You are a member of an organization dealing with the editing or publication of legal texts. You are looking for an easy to use editing tool which provides guidance and quality control for writers. You are struggling with the formalization of legal texts. You are looking for a structured format, which would enable automatic processing like detection of legal references from any legal text and interoperability between IT systems.

What is this action about?

Drafting new legislation is a complex process, involving many actors. In most democratic countries, there are three phases in the process: the preparatory phase, the adoption phase, and the entry into force.

The objective of this action is to make this time-consuming process with its increasingly pan-European dimension more efficient.

The project sets out to analyse the tools currently used by the EU and the public administrations of Member States, national parliaments, and publication offices to create and edit their legal texts. A better understanding of the way public administrations address the issue of drafting their legislations can be useful in identifying best practices, improvements and areas where common efforts and developments are possible.

The project will identify best practices and reusable solutions and compare the potential benefits offered by Open Source Software (OSS) with those available from proprietary solutions.

On the basis of its findings, consideration will be given to the development of a generic solution to meet the common needs for drafting legal texts.

The project is led by the Commission’s Informatics Directorate-General (DIGIT), with support of the Secretariat General of the Commission.

A Project Steering Committee provides overall guidance and direction for the project with the participation of all the parties concerned. Working groups, workshops and other appropriate meetings are regularly organised with the different administrations and institutions in order to gather their expertise and their requirements.

What are the objectives?

  • analysing the tools currently used by the EU and Member States’ public administrations national parliaments and publication offices to create and edit their legal texts;
  • implementing generic solutions for common needs in drafting legal texts;
  • ensuring interoperability through the automation of handling legal documents; and
  • facilitating the interconnection of legal databases and the performance of search engines.

What are the benefits?

  • reuse of best practices and office automation add-ons;
  • save costs, improve efficiency and transparency, reduce time-to-market and ensure interoperability as handling legal documents and follow up of legal procedures can be automated;
  • experience, lessons learnt, specifications, tools and components are published as Open Source tools on the Joinup platform, and are reusable by any Member State or EU Institution;
  • more transparent document management procedures in European policy execution;
  • facilitate the interconnection of legal databases and the performance of search engines.

What are the next steps?

In 2020, the action will focus on ensuring the sustainability of its activities from clusters A, B and D under Digital Europe Programme and prepare for this transition by:

  • Expanding the pool of users and strengthening the community by having a more active participation from its members and by delivering trainings
  • Continuing to improve, together with its community, the solution that will ensure interoperability and have an user-driven evolutive maintenance
  • Raising awareness about the results of this action and its community

In order to achieve the above objectives, the action will do at least the following:

  • Further improve the quality of the solution in order to increase its adoption rate 
  • Increase the maturity level of the open source community