Open source software could be the EU's secret weapon

European Union
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Pursuing a dedicated open source (opens in new tab) industrial policy will help the EU accelerate the digital transformation of European industry, suggests a new report published by the European Commission.

The study (opens in new tab) was conducted by Fraunhofer ISI and OpenForum Europe (OFE), to investigate the economic impact of open source software (OSS) and hardware on the EU’s economy.

It estimates (opens in new tab) that OSS already contributes between €65 to €95 billion to the EU’s GDP, which according to the OFE is the equivalent of both air and water transport combined.

“Open source offers a greenfield advantage for policymakers and Europe has the chance to lead,” noted (opens in new tab) Sachiko Muto, the OFE’s CEO.

Open source for the win

The report notes that EU governments and companies have already invested over €1 billion in open source development in 2018 alone, even as it identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of OSS in important fields such as cybersecurity (opens in new tab), and artificial intelligence (AI (opens in new tab)), among others.

The report goes on to offer certain recommendations to enable OSS to help digitise the European industry. One of the suggestions involves setting up a European network of governmental units dedicated to accelerating the use of open technologies.

The report also suggests using the Horizon Europe program with a total budget of €95.5 billion for 2021-2027 to infuse capital into “open source support mechanisms and projects.”

“The data predicts that if open source contributions increased by 10% in the EU, they would generate an additional 0.4% to 0.6% (around €100 billion) to the bloc’s GDP,” notes OFE, which hopes the study equips policymakers with all the evidence they need to promote open source for the benefit of the EU.

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.