Can I freely distribute software using patented techniques in the EU? The software on its own doesn't do anything, right?

EU patent law includes a concept called "secondary infringement". If you distribute components who's only purpose is to be part of an infringing product, you are guilty of secondary infringement. The penalties for this are similar to the penalties for all out infringement. Without such a provision, many patents could be sidestepped by supplying a judiciously structured kit of parts instead of a completed product. The legal system doesn't generally favour such loopholes, however many loopholes you might think the law provides.