OFE Year in Review: 2023

21 December 2023

Author: Astor Nummelin Carlberg

From Astor Nummelin Carlberg, OFE’s Executive Director
The year 2023 has been marked by significant strides and poignant remembrance at OpenForum Europe. Our involvement in shaping the EU Cyber Resilience Act (CRA) and the New Product Liability Directive (PLD) stands out as a key highlight. We’ve provided a collaborative forum for a diverse array of open source stakeholders to engage in meaningful dialogue and exchange ideas with European Institutions. These efforts have been instrumental in clarifying the CRA’s application to free and open source software (FOSS), ensuring that FOSS activities aren’t unduly burdened by the regulation. While the refinement of the CRA signifies progress, it continues to pose a regulatory challenge, especially for open source SMEs. Our focus has now shifted towards facilitating conversations around compliance, standardisation, and the role of public/private partnerships in leveraging the strengths of open source for implementing these laws.

This year, we also paid tribute to the legacy of Basil Cousins, co-founder of OpenForum Europe and a luminary in the open technology field. Following his passing earlier in the year, we presented the inaugural Basil Cousins Award at the OFA Symposium in Berlin, celebrating his profound impact on technology and society. The first recipient of this award was Jérémie Haese from HEC Lausanne, whose achievements and contributions we look forward to profiling in detail soon.

Particularly inspiring this year have been the ambitious steps taken by public sector organisations across Europe. Their projects and efforts, diverse in nature, are united in the mission of creating value for our citizens through open source. The November event marking the 15th anniversary of the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory showcased the significant advancements made in recent years.

We are at a pivotal moment where the rules for software are being written. It’s imperative that we ensure open collaboration is understood, protected, and fully leveraged by those holding the pen. Open source is more than a technological choice; it’s a strategic tool to solve our most significant challenges. By leveraging open collaboration, we can achieve more than just technological advancement; we will build a resilient, inclusive, and competitive digital Europe.

Our work this year has made me confident that for 2024, OFE, our partners and supporters are ready to tackle these key issues in the debates surrounding AI, cybersecurity, competitiveness and beyond. We invite everyone to join us in advancing the understanding that open source is not just a coding practice but a holistic innovation model, indispensable for enhancing security and driving strategic developments.

Your next opportunity to contribute to this mission is by joining us at the EU Open Source Policy Summit on 2 February. Our aim for this event is to support open technology stakeholders to shape discussions on digital policy, as strategic partners of governments across Europe and the world.

OFE’s Achievements in 2023
  • OFE organised the first in-person OpenForum Academy Symposium in Berlin, hosted by the Technische Universität Berlin with the support of academic partners and sponsors. We welcomed 60 participants from all over the world for a day of interdisciplinary discussions on the social, political and economic dimension of open source technologies.
  • OFE and supporters also continued the Capital Series events, bringing local and European policymakers and community members closer to the countries hosting the Presidencies of the Council. This year, we met in Stockholm and Madrid, where we discussed current EU legislative issues that impact open source. Join us next time in Brussels on 4 April 2024!
  • OFE has been continuing support for the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory, a platform for sharing good practices and experiences around the use of open source in public administration. Our team contributed to the organisation of the OSOR Turns 15 Conference, developed several research reports, and organised webinars, gathering insights from the wide public sector open source community.
  • Last but not least, we facilitated the work of the broader open source community around the Cyber Resilience Act and the Product Liability Directive. Thank you to everyone who joined our weekly calls and contributed to the shaping of our position. The success of the file would not have been possible without your active support and input!
OFE’s Events in 2023
This was a huge year for OFE events, giving us a chance to see our old friends and partners and meet a lot of new ones. Here is an overview of the events we organised ourselves and with our partners.
OFE on the Conference Circuit
Just like last year, we were able to travel around Europe to offer our perspectives on the ongoing open source debates. Big thank you to all the organisers for facilitated these OS discussions. Here are some of the events where our team had a speaking role.
Thank you for taking the time to look back at our journey this year. We are grateful to our ever-expanding network of friends and partners across the public and private sectors for engaging with us for the past 12 months. This year especially showed us the impact our community-based advocacy has on crucial EU legislation. As we look back on the achievements of 2023, we hope to continue this work in 2024. 
Astor Nummelin Carlberg, Executive Director