Open source software increased the European Union’s GDP from 65 to 95 billion euros in 2018, a new report released by the European Commission showed on Monday September 6, but warned that the EU should do more to promote actively open technologies.
The study assessed the impact of open source software and hardware on the European economy. He estimated that European companies invested â¬ 1 billion in open source software in 2018, resulting in additional economic output of between â¬ 65 billion and â¬ 95 billion, the equivalent of combined air and sea transport.
âOpen source offers a new advantage to policy makers and Europe has the opportunity to take the lead,â said Sachiko Muto, CEO of OpenForum Europe, one of the two organizations behind the report.
Open source-based computer software can have its source code used, analyzed, and modified by anyone for any reason because its copyright holder has opened its license to public collaboration. This is the opposite of proprietary licenses, where the owner of the source code retains exclusive control over it, so no one else can contribute to it without express permission.
According to the analysis, a 10% annual increase in open source software contributions would increase Europe’s GDP by an additional 0.4% to 0.6%, while also creating more than 600 additional tech start-ups in the bloc. .
However, to reap these economic benefits would require significant investments in open technologies and appropriate public policies. The study reviews the cases of Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain, as these EU countries have taken the first steps in this direction .
While highlighting significant differences in scope and efficiency, the case studies suggest that the use of free software instead of proprietary software could help the public administration to reduce the total cost of ownership, to avoid locking in suppliers and thus increasing its digital autonomy.
Nonetheless, public policies to promote free software have been found to be unsuccessful, both when attempting to build capacity building through funding or training and when granting preferential treatment to free software in free software procedures. public procurement.
The researchers noted that in countries with strong software capabilities, such as China and South Korea, open source was a key component of industrial strategy, while EU governments “took a more laissez-faire and today the EU is in retreat. when it comes to capabilities in this area.
As a result, the scale of Europe’s institutional capacity linked to open source is considered to be disproportionately smaller than the scale of economic value created by open source in the EU.
The study therefore gives a number of specific public policy recommendations, suggesting in particular to develop an industrial policy dedicated to open source and to include specific provisions in its major policy frameworks, such as the law on AI.
Another recommendation is to set up a European network of government units with a mandate to promote the adoption of open technologies and to provide significant financial support to mechanisms and projects advancing open source.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]