Digital Agenda in the EU means open standards after all
By user804106 on Jun 10, 2010
European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes speech on Openness at the heart of the EU Digital Agenda at Open Forum Europe 2010 Summit in Brussels refocuses the EU Digital Agenda on open standards. I say the speech scores a 90/100, smooth, smart, a little vicious at the fringes, maybe? Anyway, it shows the strategy might age and implement well. This is Dutch pragmatism at its best.
The EU Digital Agenda (I gave it an 85/100 score), while laudable, stops short of using the term. The speech is a nice interpretation of her own document. I am told all other relevant Commissioners saw and accepted the speech in a brief interservice consultation. What that means is another thing. Are they blind? Have they changed their mind? Or, do they simply let her have her own opinions, but were not prepared to go as far as this in the Digital Agenda? Whatever lies behind what happened and what was said today, it is progress.
The next step for the European Commission is defining the term open standards. If they do that, and do it right, Vice President Kroes will go into history as having made a significant contribution towards global progress in e-government by possibly eradicating lock-in forever. Moreover, she will put Europe's SMEs in a better position to succeed in a global IT market filled with barriers to entry from players not fully understanding, using, or unpacking standards.
Kroes' interesting suggestion that she will now explore a "legal proposal" on interoperability that will have an impact on all IT companies operating in the European market is more up for debate. An interoperability directive? One run by DG COMP or one run by DG INFSO, telecom style? Would something like that work? Would the industry like it? Would it help European governments? Possibly, if done right. The good thing was, Kroes pointed out that she will look for input from the industry.
Kroes' track record is one of not being scared of taking on the Titans. She also wants to enact real, positive, lasting change. "I will not go anywhere", she said. All of that is good. And she does understand the importance of open standards. Let's now start discussing the details. Implementing the Digital Agenda is not simple. It requires collaboration across the various Directorates in the European Commission. Mounting a new Interoperability directive is also never attempted before. Getting it right is important. Even possibly finding out it cannot be done right and choosing a more light weight approach that is equally effective would be bold. Go Kroes!