The EU’s initiative to keep data and data centres out of the reach of international tech giants are well underway. At present, most of the European companies are announcing deals with the US tech player for cloud services such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Alibaba Cloud. The benefits of the cloud remain largely untapped by EU businesses and the public sector.
Sitting on a humongous pile of data, the EU is solicitous about the dominance of the US in cloud tech and losing its influence in the digital sphere. Therefore, the Commission has started taking necessary precautions by means of a massive digital transformation, with AI and cloud technologies playing an essential role in the upcoming years.
European Alliance on Industrial Data and Cloud
The EU plans to spend €10B over the next seven years to develop a cloud computing sector that could rival Silicon Valley tech giants. Recently, around 25 countries signed a joint declaration to establish the “European Alliance on Industrial Data and Cloud” and agreeing to work together towards deploying resilient and competitive cloud infrastructure and services across Europe.
According to the joint declaration, “The public cloud infrastructure market is converging globally around four large non-European players. This raises concerns over cloud users’ ability to maintain control over strategic and sensitive personal and non-personal data. Also, commercial practices and a lack of interoperability between cloud providers create risks of vendor lock-in, undermining users’ trust and cloud uptake,”
“Europe is facing a great investment gap for cloud, estimated at €11B annually, and needs to boost the development of a truly competitive EU cloud supply. A joint European effort is needed to reverse this trend, by mobilising both users and suppliers,” it further notes.
As announced in the EU Data Strategy, Member States and industry are invited to co-invest with the Commission in the European cloud federation and common data spaces/ The Commission aims at financing €2B in this area over 2021-2027, drawing upon different spending programmes – Digital Europe, InvestEU, and Connecting Europe Facility. The rest of the money will come through industrial concerns and EU member states. The national governments will be allocating 20% of the funds from the EU’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan.
In particular, as agreed in the Declaration, the Member States’ joint actions will focus on:
- Combining private, national, and EU investment in deploying competitive, green, and secure cloud infrastructures and services. This will mean pursuing the next steps together with industry and experts to shape the European Alliance on Industrial Data and Cloud.
- Defining a common European approach on federating cloud capacities, by working towards one set of joint technical solutions and policy norms in order to foster pan-European interoperable EU cloud services.
- Driving the take-up of more secure, interoperable, and energy-efficient data centres and cloud services in particular for small and medium enterprises, start-ups, and the public sector.
25 countries signed a joint declaration agreement
A European Alliance on Industrial Data and Cloud will be launched by the end of the year. Various countries including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden have signed the joint declaration agreement. Notably, Denmark and Cyprus didn’t sign the declaration due to technical reasons.
“The declaration is a foundation stone for the establishment of European cloud technology, which will be very high performing,” says Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton. “Contrary to the prejudices, we are not late on cloud development. We are the first to get involved in the industrial cloud,” he adds.
Last year, Germany and France came together to establish a cloud computing ecosystem in a bid to reduce Europe’s dependence on Silicon Valley giants. Dubbed as Gaia-X, the project intends to serve as a bridge between several different cloud services by providing a joint standard to share data.
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