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EU study: Europe falls asleep even with open source

An EU study shows the diverse influences of open source on the economy. And thinks: Europe does not support open-source software and hardware enough.

One would suspect that open source software, open hardware, and free access to data stimulate the economy, but the EU examined whether this is actually the case for 2018 as an example.

The study ” The impact of Open Source Software and Hardware on technological independence, competitiveness and innovation in the EU economy ” was commissioned by the EU Commission. The authors are the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) and the OpenForum Europe think tank (OFE). The small-scale study consists of surveys of companies and analyzes, such as the number of code fragments (commits) entered on the open-source platform GitHub and their countries of origin.

EU benefits from code that is created elsewhere

Macroeconomically, the study sees noticeable economic growth in EU countries through open source code. The EU benefits from code that is created elsewhere. From the gross domestic product of the EU (2018: 13.5 trillion euros), the researchers calculated the proportions that arose directly from GitHub commits: that’s 60 to 95 billion euros – with investments of around 1 billion euros.

There were similar effects with the increase in productivity and competitiveness. The number of GitHub commits has no direct influence on the number of jobs. And: Open source is not a driver for innovation either. It is more positive that a 10 percent increase in GitHub commits results in more than 650 start-ups in the EU.

The study also took known things into account. She cites case studies on how open source can help the public sector cut costs and avoid being tied to proprietary software. A large part of the survey evaluates responses from more than 900 companies and reflects what has been said above. Thin is the part about open-source hardware; there wasn’t a data source as gushing about it as GitHub. The EU study, therefore, made do with five case studies.

The consideration of EU policy on the overall complex is devastating: Public funding or awarding measures for this was only successful where they were anchored in the digital culture of the administration. Laws for more open source have also failed so far. A number of IT companies with a focus on open source have moved to Europe as a result of the trade conflicts between China and the USA, such as the Eclipse Foundation. Good for the EU, says the study. Unsurprisingly, the researchers recommend embedding open source in EU projects and in EU industrial policy. The study contains a good 30 additional suggestions. This includes setting up a network of 20 project offices, treating open source contributions as non-profit and financing security audits of critical projects.

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