ODF file iconAs an answer to a question from a Swedish politician the EU Commission has also confirmed ODF as a standard document format, Germany’s Linux Magazin writes. However, free software advocates are criticising the step as “not far-reaching enough”.

image of Amelia Andersdotter MEP

Amelia Andersdotter MEP

At the end of November 2013 Amelia Andersdotter MEP, a member of the Swedish Pirate Party, submitted a written question to the EU Commission in which she dug deeper in two points into what was happening with file formats recommended by the EU. In 2011 Inter-Institutional Committee for Informatics had instructed all departments to support the OOXML standard developed and controlled by Microsoft. Andersdotter inquired what sense this still made when only one manufacturer is implementing the standard and how communication could take place with public sector organisations who are using other standards.

The Commission’s answer was given a few days ago. According to a report on Joinup, the EU’s public sector open source news site, EU Commission Vice-president Maroš Šefčovič himself responded to the written question and mentioned OOXML and ODF as minimum requirements for document exchange. Šefčovič maintains that this ensures no vendor lock-in exists or can occur. In addition, public sector organisations should support other file formats in accordance with the best effort principle, i.e. if this is practically possible.

Open source activists, such as the Open Forum Europe are describing the decision as overdue, but are criticising the EU for missing an opportunity for the EU to lead by example for not daring to stipulate ODF as a single open standard. Switzerland’s Open Systems Group welcomes this first step, Joinup states. Mathias Stürmer is even hoping that the Swiss government will follow suit, even though it is not within the EU; although it would definitely help to prompt other public sector organisations to make the change to ODF.