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EU should estimate benefits of open knowledge economy

by xavier last modified 2009-11-26 14:03

The European Union should quantify the economic benefits of an open knowledge economy, said Luc Soete, a specialist in the economics of innovation. He is director of UNU-Merit, a joint project by the institute of the United Nations University and Maastricht University in The Netherlands.

Based on an article by

Soete was a speaker at the Open Forum Europe Summit that took place in Brussels last week. As a  participant in the discussion on open standards and competition, he wants the EU to conduct a study similar to the one it did in 1988 on the expected gains of unifying the European Market, the so-called Cecchini report. "At this stage we can only provide hints as to the cost of non-openness."

An open economy requires interoperability and open standards, Soete says. He warned that a monopoly in technology combined with intellectual property rights on its proprietary standards, result in a double monopoly on the technology. Open standards can ensure competition in markets dominated by a monopoly.

Earlier, a civil servant at the European Commission attending the conference had asked whether the Commission's dependence on the Microsoft operating system and its suite of office applications was a monopoly the Commission should be concerned about. Keynote speaker Žiga Turk, Secretary General at the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe, replied jokingly: "I believe governments should not be too big, and not too strong." He later added: "If public administrations where allowed to use the tools the Internet now offers, they would become much more powerful. That could become a bit risky."