Open Source Observatory


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In the December issue
A Breakthrough Year
2020 and 2021 were extraordinary years. Yet, from an open source perspective the two were markedly different. While the former was defined by both need and opportunity, the latter was when open source delivered on those opportunities and matured in the public sector. Whereas before a government announcement in the field of public sector digitalisation would rarely mention open source, nowadays it feels out of place and out of time when it doesn’t.

Open source has proven itself in many new technology projects. When governments required fast digitalisation solutions, for instance tracing apps, they were right to trust in the innovative power of open source communities to make a critical contribution. And when they needed new digital infrastructure software, open source helped create interoperable, secure and robust systems.

The great number of national governments that have made commitments to open source this year is a testament to the maturity of the ecosystem. Estonia made open source the default. Germany not only adopted an open source communications system for its health care sector, but also made open source the core of its planned Centre for Digital Sovereignty. The Netherlands realised the potential of open source for active digital public procurement, France set out to create its own Open Source Programme Office and Belgium open sourced its digital identity system.

Unsurprisingly, the developments are not just limited to European governments. To just give a few examples: the Indian government is doubling down on “becoming a vibrant hub for FOSS innovations”, Mexico and other countries are adopting the X-Road infrastructure software and the United Nations is planning to incorporate the open source ethos into its working culture.

These developments are fanned by reports that identify positive effects of government adoption of open source. A Dutch study also pointed to the potential to make government work more openly with open source, a British report investigated what factors determine the success of government open source adoption and the European Commission’s own study showed that open source makes an annual contribution of up to €95 billion to the European economy.

In return, the European Union is making its own contributions. Following a Decision, the Commission will make its software available as open source in one single repository to facilitate access and reuse, in line with the OSS Strategy 2020-2023. Furthermore, the EU digital Covid certification gateway that enables frictionless travel is built on open source. Finally, the Commission has so far collected over 500 digital resources, with more than 100 open source solutions, that are useful tools in the ongoing mitigation of the COVID crisis.

We are looking back with appreciation for the great developments of open source during this past year and are looking forward to moving into the new year to keep shaping this ecosystem together. The OSOR team wishes our readers a pleasant holiday season and a happy and healthy New Year. See you all in 2022!

The OSOR team

Latest News
New rules for open source software distribution

The Commission adopted new rules for open source software distribution that will enable public services, companies, start-ups as well as citizens to use and further develop Commission software, facilitating also the sharing of knowledge and expertise.

Sharing and reuse with open source – webinar takeaways

On 30 November, the OSOR community participated in the webinar on enabling the sharing and reuse with open source. During the event, Kristo Vaher, Chief of Technology for the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, and Matthieu Faure, open source project manager at Adullact, discussed how open source solutions have been shared and reused at the national and local levels as well as the challenges faced by public administrations.

New action plan on open source in the French administration

The Minister of Public Sector Transformation and the Civil Service of France, Amélie de Montchalin announced a new action plan for open source software in the public sector at the closing of the Paris Open Source Experience conference on 10 November. It sets up an Open Source Program Office within the public administration that will be responsible for implementing the plan and managing the state’s involvement in open source.

Disinfo, the open toolbox to fight disinformation

On the occasion of the 2019 European elections and ahead of France’s 2022 presidential elections, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched in 2019 a toolbox of open source software and open resources to fight disinformation. As of December 2021, Internet users can access software to detect fake Twitter accounts, assess the legality of political advertisement on Facebook, and use multiple further resources on good practices to counter disinformation. Further work is ongoing to develop and deploy additional online resources.

Towards a sovereign workstation

The German federal government signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate with nine of the German states to create a "sovereign workstation", built on open source software. This initiative builds on previous agreements and work within the states to spearhead such a software suite.

Towards a vibrant EU IoT ecosystem

The European IoT Hub (EU-IoT) presents an updated overview of the ongoing growth of a sustainable and comprehensive ecosystem for the Next Generation Internet of Things initiative. This latest report reflects the EU-IoT guiding principle: that to build a vibrant and impactful European IoT ecosystem, it is necessary to map and engage all relevant research, innovation and policy initiatives; identify the core market pull needs and technology push trends; and to coordinate and align on a common ambition and plan with all key stakeholders across Europe.

Feasibility study: Sovereign Tech Fund

Open source software is digital public infrastructure, yet it is not receiving the funding necessary to ensure the sustainability of important projects. Based on this assumption, a feasibility study funded by the German Ministry for Economy and Energy suggests a “Sovereign Tech Fund” to be created to plug funding holes in the open source software ecosystem.

EUPL for French Administrations

On 1 December 2021, France added the European Union Public Licence (EUPL) as a "legal licence" in the Code of Relationship between the Public and the Administrations (CRPA). The new decree helps simplify the use of the license, which previously had to be justified and required a long administrative process.

Upcoming Events
EU Open Source Policy Summit 2022

On 4 February 2022, a physical and online event ‘EU Open Source Policy summit 2022' will be organised by OpenForum Europe, a non-for-profit think tank specialised on open source. This event will bring together global technology and policy leaders to discuss how open source collaboration and competition are being rethought to solve complex global challenges.

permalink Main URL
date 04/02/2022
FOSS Backstage 2022

FOSS Backstage is an exciting conference dedicated to everything related to FOSS governance and open collaboration. The fourth edition of FOSS Backstage will consist of one fully virtual day followed by one in person day taking place here in Berlin. The in person day in Berlin will be live streamed for those attending virtually, and virtual attendees will be able to ask speakers questions.

permalink Main URL
date 17/03/2022 - 18/03/2022
Solutions of the Month
Legislation Editing Open Software (LEOS)

Software for generation of draft legislation in XML format, enabling automatic processing and interoperability between IT systems. The code can be adapted to the specific requirements of public administrations.

Signature Verification Portal

Open source web application for verification of electronic signatures in various digital internationally standardised formats, used by the Austrian Electronic Signature Supervision Authority in electronic Government applications.


Single platform of the Spanish public sector for electronic identification and authentication of citizens in public services, facilitating the verification of electronic identities and signatures.

Latest Studies
Updated Guidelines for Sustainable Open Source Communities in the Public Sector

In 2021, OSOR expanded the Guidelines with additional examples of useful tools and good practices that make an open source community sustainable. The update was made in light of community feedback and users' experiences in implementing the Guidelines’ recommendations, which was shared directly with the team and during a dedicated OSOR webinar.

Open Source Software Country Intelligence Report - Canada

Curious about Canada's "open source first" approach? Learn how the legal framework and government initiatives have helped promote the use of open source at both federal and regional level.

Open Source Software Country Intelligence Report - South Africa

Discover how South Africa has reaffirmed its commitment to open source in the public sector, along with the many OSS initiatives promoted by key strategic players in the country.

View all studies
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