The European Union intends to spend € 10 billion over seven years to build its own cloud computing industry that can compete with Amazon, Google and Alibaba. 25 EU countries signed a joint declaration in which they promised to allocate public money for the development of the cloud sector and create a partnership “European Alliance for Industrial Data and Clouds”, which will assist such projects.
We have previously written about the European cloud computing platform Gaia-X, which is planned to be launched in 2021, as well as about another alleged competitor to Amazon AWS from the owners of the Lidl and Kaufland store chains. TNow Europe has decided to go further in its desire to gain independence from the American and Chinese cloud giants.
The alliance, funded by ongoing EU programs and anticipated investment from industry groups, will be launched by the end of the year. Cyprus and Denmark became the only EU member states that did not sign the declaration for “technical reasons”. According to the Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton, the declaration is the cornerstone for the creation of European cloud technology, which will be of great importance.
The Cloud Alliance is a key part of the European Commission’s data strategy to create a single data marketplace for industrial use. The plan is to transform the EU into a global data center that will give Europe an edge over foreign competitors that currently dominate the cloud business. Such actions are also consistent with broader efforts by European policymakers to reduce the EU’s dependence on foreign technology.
The new alliance will have a mandate to develop business plans, investment projects for the introduction of European cloud technologies in the public and private sectors. The signed agreement also provides for the creation of common European standards and norms for new cloud services, which should help small and medium-sized businesses, start-ups and the public sector master European cloud technologies. One of the reasons for creating an alliance is the need to achieve digital sovereignty, which is impossible in the current conditions, when data located in cloud data centers are controlled by American and Chinese companies.
The EU plans to invest up to 10 billion euros in the development of cloud structures and data infrastructure on its territory. The EU executive body will invest 2 billion euros in the programs “Digital Europe”, “InvestEU” and “Connecting Europe Facility 2”. The rest of the money will come from both industrial concerns and EU member states. National governments will be able to fund these projects through the EU’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan – 20% can be allocated for similar purposes.
In addition to initiatives on “import substitution”, the EU puts forward new requirements for cloud service providers:
- Must guarantee “European safety standards;
- Ensure data protection;
- Provide consumer protection;
- Data portability;
- Be energy efficient;
- Promote European digital sovereignty.
Cloud providers must provide “adequate assurance” that the EU retains control over its strategic and confidential data. While all cloud providers can operate in the European Cloud Federation, the cloud services they create must be regulated by EU law.
Let’s see how the leading cloud giants comment on these EU initiatives. In any case, the process has just begun, there are still many interesting twists and turns in this story ahead.