We must take care of Open Source developers: the European Union saves billions of euros every year thanks to them
Having access to the code of other developers is a huge help, but now a study by the European Commission reports that Open Source saves billions of euros every year. In these days when European institutions debate digital sovereignty, free software stands as a critical component to help reduce economic dependence on other powers.
The OpenForum Europe (OFE) has published a report where it shows that European citizens they are not always aware of the economic benefits of Open Source. A general lack of perspective that causes many companies to not take open source into account when considering their business model.
Open Source: an initiative of 100,000 million euros a year in Europe
“The economic impact of open source in 2018 was between 65 and 95 billion for the European Union. In other words, it is more likely that exceed 100 billion per year in the future, according to estimates based on the Cobb-Douglas model “, Explain Knut Blind, head of the Innovation and Regulation division at the Fraunhofer Institute. The researcher recounts the importance of open source and recalls that the last report from the European Commission in this regard was from 15 years ago, when Open Source was far from the levels of today.
Over the years, large companies have added to Open Source and have integrated it into their models. According to the report’s estimate, more than 260,000 developers Open Source contribute in Europe.
Unlike in the US, in Europe there are no large companies like Google, Microsoft or Amazon that contribute to open source. In Europe it is small and medium-sized companies that contribute. A fact that must be taken into account, according to the report, and where the program funds Horizon europe they should have more influence on Open Source projects. “There is a lot of room for maneuver,” says Blind.
“There is empirical evidence that public policies work. France has changed its public procurement policy to indicate that open source solutions are preferred. As a result, there are many more French contributions to open source and more new companies are being founded in this area, “comments the researcher.
One of the trade-offs raised is the contrast between making a viable and profitable business and offering open source. Two parts that are not incompatible at all. It is in this economic aspect of Open Source that the OFE report and the Fraunhofer Institute believe that it should influence.
Increasing the number of Open Source developers by 10% would help increase the GDP of the European Union by almost 100 billion euros and would help create nearly 1,000 new tech startups. “The Commission is taking an active role in open source, but we believe that this should be expanded and taken further. If we look at the value of open source for European GDP, we believe that it does not correspond to the interest placed,” he explains to ZDNet, Sachiko Muto, CEO del OpenForum Europe.
Among the 30 recommendations of the report for the Commission is the promotion of the Open Source culture to tax incentives for those companies or developers who bet on it. The figure of 100,000 million a year is a way that institutions have had to visualize the enormous impact that Open Source has. A figure that can also be used as an argument to justify releasing the code for future projects.