‘Choose open standards’ – EU commissioner

In June this year Neelie Kroes, the European Union’s competition commissioner delivered a recommendation that businesses and governments  adopt open systems. The speech was widely seen as a snub to Microsoft and not unconnected with a four year legal battle which resulted in substantial EU fines for Microsoft.

No citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over an open one, through a government having made that choice first.”

“I know a smart business decision when I see one – choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed.”

She provides clear principles for intellectual property law and competition policy operating to reward innovation and not anti-competetive lock-in. Including trusting the market rather than regulation, where the market delivers effective choice to consumers (example: Apple and iPod).

“We need an approach to standards that is based:

  • on evidence;
  • on economics; and
  • on experience.

It is simplistic to assume that because some intellectual property protection is good, that such protection should therefore be absolute in all circumstances.

It is simplistic to assume that because standardisation sometimes brings benefits, more standardisation will bring more benefits.

It is simplistic to assume that if the best approach is sometimes to base a standard on proprietary technology, then that is always the best approach.

And it is simplistic to assume that we can fix on a standard today, without paying attention to the risk of being locked-in tomorrow.”

Neelie Kroes European Commissioner for Competition Policy

OpenForum Europe – Breakfast seminar Brussels, 10th June 2008

Being open about standards

Guardian technology blog by Bobby Johnson

Kroes tells EU members: don’t use Microsoft

Comments thread is worth reading, if you have the stamina, for the distinction between open standards and open source.

New York Times coverage

New York Times

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