It's perhaps not surprising that the European Union, while long attempting to remain neutral on open source, has finally come out to suggest that it will favor open source. , the EU recognizes the value in open source and open standards:
For all future IT developments and procurement procedures, the Commission shall promote the use of products that support open, well-documented standards. Interoperability is a critical issue for the Commission, and usage of well-established open standards is a key factor to achieve and endorse it.
Undoubtedly Steve Ballmer will be on a plane within days to try to hector the EU into ceding its sovereignty to Microsoft again. (Btw, Ballmer beat the pulpit at Accel's recent CEO day, accusing open source of stealing Microsoft's intellectual property. This man dearly needs to get a life...and a clue.)
Too late. As The 451 Group suggests, this is not only about government sovereignty but also about developing the EU's native software industry. As reported before, the EU came out with a lengthy report detailing how it benefits from open source, and how it could benefit even more.
There's much more at stake here than cheap licenses. This is about returning control of IT and the growth of IT to the customer (and, in this case, to the government). No private company should have undue influence over a sovereign nation. Period. It's not even up for discussion.
The EU is simply recognizing that it cannot continue to feed at the proprietary trough, shipping euros by the boatload to the US, and expect to have a healthy software economy.