Quo vadis, European Web Search? – Policy Paper on Open Web Search in Europe

The EU project OpenWebSearch.eu has successfully mastered the first phase. – Now it is time to plan how the Open Web Index (OWI) can be operated as a public infrastructure in the long term. This is about policy support, funding models and governance structures.

Important basic requirements for an open web index: long-term funding and an organisational form that supports Europe’s legal framework.

Together, we – the consortium partners of the EU project OpenWebSearch.eu under the leadership of the Open Search Foundation –- have discussed the ideas, goals and benefits of an Open Web Index and our demands on policymakers and worked out the cornerstones. We have summarised the results of this discussion in a policy paper aimed at policy makers and now publicly available.

Here are the key points:

Why does the European Union need a digital infrastructure like the Open Web Index?

  • An OWI enables transparent access to information on the web and counteracts fake news.
  • It helps secure European autonomy by promoting digital sovereignty.
  • The competitiveness of small and medium-sized European enterprises in particular is strengthened. New opportunities for innovation are created.
  • European values and diversity on the web are also strengthened in linguistic and cultural terms.

What does the Open Web Search initiative need from politicians for this?

  • The topic of Open Web Search must be placed at the top of the political agenda. This requires discussions in the national ministries and EU institutions.
  • A funding model, supported by public money from the EU and the member states, must be worked out and set up.
  • The open web index should be under democratic control. For this, an organisational form must be created that creates the conditions for this democratic control.

Where should it go?

The so-called EDIC (European Digital Infrastructure Consortium) could create the possibilities for this.

We therefore call on the EU Member States and the European Commission to establish a European Digital Infrastructure Consortium (EDIC) and allocate funds for it in the next multi-annual financial framework. This will be an essential step towards an EU programme for a European Open Web Index and Web Analytics in the coming years.

You can download the full policy paper here.