Technological Sovereignty

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From the Barcelona City policy on Ethical Digital Standards:


This document is a supporting document for the Technology Code of Practice that puts the concept of technological sovereignty into practice, expanding on the principles that govern the new directorate at the Barcelona Municipal Institute of Information Technology (IMI) in terms of technology and innovation: interoperability, agility, reuse, ethics and making knowledge and technologies more open.

This document seeks to assist the IMI in implementing the strategic approach of the Barcelona City Council, which involves rolling out open technologies and free software for most of its technological processes and services. This principle of technological sovereignty, combined with the agile methodology for developing services and responsible data management, form the basis of the medium-term vision for the agile digital transformation in the city of Barcelona.

According to the Paris Declaration on the Open Government Partnership:

"Open Source Software contributes to fostering transparency and collaboration. Source code is at the heart of digital and technical innovation. It is the primary means to providing high quality digital services. Partners joining will seek to promote transparency and accountability of open source code and algorithms they develop and use, wherever possible and appropriate. Partners joining will seek to design and implement them in non-discriminatory manners, and work towards maximizing the benefits of government code sharing and reuse."

Paris Declaration for Open Government Partnership

Therefore, an important objective of this document is to help participants and those interested in the digital services of the Barcelona City Council to work with free technologies, solutions and projects; to understand the rights and duties resulting from free licences; to promote the development, acquisition, use and release of software; to ensure that its advantages are harnessed and to eliminate any reluctance that may exist due to the lack of knowledge around the various technical, organisational and legal aspects.

Area of application: This document will be applied to the management and governance of new digital service projects that fall within the Barcelona City Council’s digital transformation plan."


From the 2017–2020 Digital Barcelona Plan

"General Principles of Technological Sovereignty

On 6 October 2016, the Commissioner for Technology and Digital Innovation presented the 2017–2020 Digital Barcelona Plan: Transition towards technological sovereignty, the goal of which is “to resolve the challenges of the city and its citizens through a more democratic use of technology. Boosting technological and digital innovation, for a more open government, as a tool for developing a plural economy that promotes social and environmental transformation and that promotes citizen empowerment”.

The Plan, structured around three axes, demonstrates Barcelona’s desire to lead the transition towards technological sovereignty, a technological sovereignty of government and citizens that enables them to participate in the decision-making process and take action concerning the technological priorities and strategies in use throughout the city. In particular, in terms of the government and city, the Plan focuses on a open and efficient government that uses technology to transform and digitally innovate the public sector based on free software and standards. Furthermore, the aim is to set up an open public data infrastructure to develop innovative data-based applications.

According to the Government Measure, technological sovereignty of government and citizens will make it possible to determine and take action concerning the priorities in the use of technology, make decisions about how to develop our city and regain knowledge of the city’s management using technological tools — knowledge that, to date, was held by just a few companies for the most part. This sovereignty will make it possible to leave this knowledge as a lasting legacy for the city. In addition, this technological sovereignty, promoted using free standards, must be a tool for the common good that generates a new economy and also makes knowledge-sharing possible between different cities.

Within the framework of this plan, in addition to designing public services as “digital services by default”, placing citizens at the centre of the design process and contributing public value, services must be built in the most agile and open manner possible; they must be simple, modular and interoperable to avoid dependencies on vendors and providers of specific proprietary solutions. Consequently, the use of free software standards must be prioritised.

The Measure establishes the “transition towards free software and standards” as one of the most important activities: the transition towards free software standards, through the exploration of the best Spanish and European practices in this field. To this end, a migration plan and a code of best practices for technology will be defined and established to guide the internal transformation, the reuse and sharing of the software with third parties and the development and use of shared government solutions.

For these reasons, technological sovereignty within the 2017-2020 Digital Barcelona Plan is structured around three fundamental principles:

  • The transition and use of free software
  • The interoperability of services and systems
  • The use of free standards"


More Information

  • the French open machine construction group Atelier Paysan calls for technological sovereignty for farmers

Source Material for Policy-making



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SWD(2013) 224 final. Guide for the procurement of standards-based ICT — Elements of Good Practice. Available online at

The Sharing and Reuse Framework for IT Solutions (2016). Available online at

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OSOR: Guidelines for Public Administrations on Partnering with Free Software Developers. Available online at

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General studies on free software for the public administration in the EU. Available online at


Propuesta de recomendaciones a la Administración General del Estado sobre utilización del software libre y de fuentes abiertas, general study on the use of free software by the Spanish Ministry of Public Administrations. Available online at


Technology Code of Practice. Available online at

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NZGoal Software Extension Policy: Open Source Policy (July 2016). Available online at


Aliprandi, Simone (2011) Interoperability and open standards: the key to true openness and innovation, International Free and Open Source Software Law Review, 3(1), p. 5-24, DOI: 10.5033/ifosslr.v3i1.53

Gardeler, R. (2013) Software Sustainability Maturity Model. Available online at

Javier Ruiz (2016) Gobernanza de la fase inicial de la estrategia Open Source. Working document of Barcelona City Council. Meshed Insights Limited

Javier Ruiz (2016) Documents de suport a la compra pública en els aspectes de tecnologia oberta. Working document of Barcelona City Council. Omnis Systems

Paapst, Mathieu (2010) Affirmative action in procurement for open standards and FLOSS, IFOSS L. Rev., 2(2), p. 181-190, DOI: 10.5033/ifosslr.v2i2.41

Piana, Carlo (2010) Italian Constitutional Court gives way to Free Software friendly laws, IFOSS L. Rev., 2(1), p. 61-66, DOI. Available online at 10.5033/ifosslr.v2i1.38

Offerman, A (2012) Public Open Source Software Procurement Models: The Next Generation, European Journal of ePractice, núm. 18 (October 2012)s. Available online at and

OSS Watch (2014) Decision factors for open source software procurement. Available online at

Shaikh, Maha and Cornford, Tony (2011) Total cost of ownership of open source software: a report for the UK Cabinet Office supported by OpenForum Europe. UK Cabinet Office, London, United Kingdom. Available online at

Software Freedom Law Centre (2008) A Legal Issues Primer for Open Source and Free Software Projects. Available online at