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Eclipse Foundation Puts Down Formal Roots in Belgium

The Eclipse Foundation's move to Europe continues apace with the formal establishment last week of the Eclipse Foundation AIBL, its new international non-profit association in Brussels, Belgium. The new European entity launches with the support of founding members Bosch, Daimler TSS, IBM, and SAP, the Foundation said in an announcement.

The Eclipse Foundation is one of the world's leading open-source software foundations, steward of the Eclipse IDE, enterprise Java, and the Eclipse MicroProfile, and the heart of a global ecosystem of developers, companies, and public sector entities. By moving its legal residence from the United States to Belgium, the Foundation has created "a global institution that builds on its existing membership base, active developer community, and strong institutional relationships to enable collaboration and the free flow of open source software innovation throughout the entire world," the announcement reads.

I talked with the Foundation's executive director, Mike Milinkovich, who has led the organization since its founding nearly 17 years ago, about the move last year. This seemed like another milestone moment to catch up, and he reminded me that "this is a proh-sess, not an event." (Canadians.)

"This is going to end up being a couple of years from the time we started to the time we're done" he said, "before we can say that we've fully completed the transition and emerged on the other side with our organization as it's going to be in the long term."

When Milinkovich talks about "the transition," he's not talking about shipping office furniture, of course. The move of the Eclipse.org Foundation, Inc., from a Delaware-based 501 C (6) non-profit organization to a Belgium-based 501 C (6) non-profit (also recognized by U.S. laws) involves some heavy lifting on the software side, and a couple of moving vans worth of membership agreements; working group documentation; intellectual property, trust policy, and trademark guidelines; and now, with Jakarta EE, platform specifications. Nevermind remapping of the Foundation's bylaws from the U.S. to a different legal framework.

"It's going to end up being a couple of years from the time we started to the time we come out on the other side, fully completed," he said.

The story of how the Eclipse Foundation got here stems from the organization's discovery of an already large European footprint.

"It started in October 2019, when, during a Foundation strategy session held in conjunction with the EclipseCon Europe event just outside Stuttgart, Germany," Milinkovich explained. "We were doing strategy setting for the following year, and one our European based directors said that we seemed to be doing really well in Europe, and wondered if we could do an analysis of where we were Europe. And so we started crunching some numbers and we found out that 70% of our paying members and 70% of our developers were based in Europe. We had, gradually over time, become a very Euro-centric organization; in terms of the number of employees, projects, and developers we had over there, we actually already were the largest open-source foundation in Europe. Seeing the numbers in black-and-white really brought it all home."

"And if we didn't do something," he added, "someone else would."

The move has been "remarkably smooth so far," Milinkovich said. To keep track of the Foundation's progress, be sure to subscribe to the organization's blog.

And while you're at it, keep reading this one.

Posted by John K. Waters on January 21, 2021