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Open standards 'essential to Europe's IT future'

Open standards 'essential to Europe's IT future'
Tom Espiner
October 06, 2006, 14:35 BST

A high ranking French government official has called for open standards for software to be adopted by all European countries.

In a report to the French prime minister Dominique de Villepin, National Assembly deputy Bernard Carayon said that the adoption of standards to guarantee interoperability was essential to promote European business and competition.

"To counter the risk of the impoverishment of IT because of the practices of some large world actors, it is important that we propose that our European partners adopt the principle of interoperability as regards data processing, to guarantee the development — even, in certain sectors, the survival — of the European IT industry," said Carayon.

The French Government has not yet responded to Carayon's report.

In the report, Carayon claimed that Europe was totally dependent on technologies developed and owned by American companies, which was insupportable in the long term.

Carayon recommended that both the French Government and European member states should adopt open standards for data processing, according to Carayon. The Open Document Format would encourage "freedom of choice and a better quality of product", in "an environment favourable to free, undistorted competition", Carayon  said.

OpenDocument Format for Office Applications (ODF) is an open standard, published by OASIS (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), for office software to save documents such as spreadsheets, databases and text, and to exchange information. It was approved as an ISO standard in May, which Carayon said was a guarantee that it could be safely be used by governments for data processing.

OASIS works towards the development and implementation of open, interoperable standards.

Donald Harbison of IBM, speaking to ZDNet UK in his role as co-chair of the OASIS ODF Adoption Committee, said that governments around the world should contemplate adopting open standards.

Although the ODF Adoption Committee had not spoken with the French Government specifically about Carayon's report, Harbison said governments should consider open standards to encourage flexibility, interoperability, and cost effectiveness.

"Open standards ensure flexibility for government information technology solutions and infrastructure, increasing technology options for citizens and users," said Harbison. "Implementers can easily configure information systems and procure technology from a wide variety of vendors at best value price points, helping [IT professionals] to adapt to ever-changing requirements and procedures."

Carayon's report can be read here, in French.

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