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NewsForge on ODF in the EU

Tom Chance of NewsForge writes Where ODF stands in the EU.

The article’s a little dry (because it has to explain some of the EU bureaucracy), but it contains valuable information. For example:

“A key presentation on the ODF day came from Dr. Barbara Held, who is the Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General of the European Commission Program for Interoperable Delivery of pan-European eGovernment Services to Public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens (IDABC). Got that? Right. The IDABC basically exists to smooth over the technical problems within the European Union caused by the 25 member states exchanging data. The existence of multiple, incompatible file formats poses a formidable problem for the EU, so the IDABC was tasked with developing a strategy to overcome this.”

After some analysis, Chance advances his promising conclusion. ODF is gaining strength and support as a possible Europe-wide standard:

“To summarise the labyrinthine complexity of this, the EU is currently moving toward the standardisation of document formats, and internally many EU bodies and member states prefer ODF. But the EU is unable to require the use of ODF across the board.

So where do we go from here? The more stakeholders voice their support for ODF, the more likely it is that Europe will standardise on it, either with a legally binding decision or a series of unambiguous recommendations. Citizens of the EU can talk to their representatives in the European Parliament, pressing home the advantages of ODF by referring to the EIF and the IDABC’s recommendations made in 2004, and also talk to their national representatives, increasing the pressure to standardise on ODF on a national and even local level.”

Remember, the EU is the world’s largest economy. If its governments begin to standardize on ODF, corporations, universities and home users will start to follow. And very quickly, ODF may achieve the strongest strategic position in the coming contest for global standard adoption.

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