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European Union Public Licence

What is the EUPL?

The EUPL is the first European Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) licence created on the initiative of the European Commission. It is a unique legal instrument developed in 22 European languages and can be used by anyone for software distribution.

More than 100 other F/OSS licences exist. The purpose of the EUPL is not to compete with any of these licences, but to encourage a new wave of public administrations to embrace the Free/Open Source model to valorise their software and knowledge, starting with the European institutions themselves.


Why the EUPL?

The European Commission distributes its own software under the licence. Some applications developed in the framework of the IDABC programme, such as CIRCABC (Communication and Information Resource Centre for Administrations, Businesses and Citizens), or EUSurvey have already been licensed under the EUPL in 2007.

Since 2012 the EUPL was used for more than 500 software solutions – some examples can be found here.

But why create a new legal instrument from scratch when more than 100 other F/OSS licences exist, such as the GPL, the BSD or the OSL? The reason is that in a detailed legal study no existing licence was found to correspond to the requirements of the European Commission:

  • The licence should have equal legal value in many languages
  • The terminology regarding intellectual property rights had to be conformant with the European law requirements 
  • To be valid in all Member States, limitations of liability or warranty had to be precise, and not formulated "to the extent allowed by the law" as in most licences designed with the legal environment of the United States in mind


Who can use the EUPL?

Although the potential users of the European institutions' software are mostly other public sector administrations, there is nothing in the EUPL preventing its broader use. The EUPL could be used by anyone who holds the copyright to a piece of software. It could become – in various languages - an adequate legal interoperability instrument across Europe.

OSI certified

The EUPL v 1.1 is OSI certified as from March 2009.