Open source has the potential to boost the EU economy

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The European Commission (EC) has released a new report that reveals the impact open-source software (OSS) and open-source hardware (OSH) can have on the European Union economy. The report is titled “The Impact of Open Source Software and Hardware on technological dependencies, competitiveness and innovation in the EU Economy” [PDF].

The report was compiled on behalf of the EC by Fraunhofer ISI and OpenForum Europe.

It affirms that EU-based governments and private companies invested about $1.2 billion in open-source software in 2018, which resulted in the EU economy benefiting by getting between 65 billion and 95 billion euros.

What OSS and OSH investments could bring to the EU

The report also predicted that a 10% increase in contribution to OSS projects could generate an extra 0.4% to 0.6% of the GDP and lead to the addition of 600 tech startups in the bloc.

Europe’s institutional OSS capacity is, however, disproportionately smaller than the scale of value created by OSS.

To counter this problem, the EU offers several policy recommendations that will help both the OSS and OSH sphere grow, through actively engaging in a transition toward more openness in the EU’s political and investment culture.

Make it official

Specifically, the report concludes that an EC-funded network of open-source program offices (OSPOs) would help enhance institutional capacity and accelerate the consumption, creation, and application of open-source programs.

The OSPOs bring order and formality to the programs and have become an integral part of big tech companies like Google and even smaller venture capital-backed startups.

To bolster the initiative the report recommends that the bloc develop an open-source industrial policy and include it in major policy frameworks as it did with the European Green Deal and the AI Act.