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October 2, 2012

Europe Ties Cloud to Job Growth, Economic Prosperity

Tiffany Trader

The European Commission has published its latest cloud computing strategy aimed at boosting the technical and economic sectors in the EU. The report, titled “Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe,” says a unified cloud strategy will create 2.5 million new jobs and will add €160 billion annually to the EU GDP by 2020.

The project uses a general definition of cloud, referring to “the storage of data (such as text files, pictures and video) and software on remote computers, which users access over the Internet on the device of their choice.”

The strategy includes the following key components:

  • Necessary standards should be identified by 2013, ensuring users can move data from one cloud to another or withdraw their data altogether.

  • EU-wide certification schemes for trustworthy cloud providers.

  • ‘Safe and fair’ contract terms for cloud computing contracts.

  • A European Cloud Partnership with Member States and industry to harness the public sector’s buying power, which comprises 20% of all IT spending.

According to European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes: “Cloud computing is a game-changer for our economy. Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains. We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe. We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head-on.”

The announcement explains that the benefits of cloud computing are achieved through economies of scale, and further claims that 80% of organizations adopting cloud computing achieve cost savings of at least 10-20%. The paper does not call for a single super-cloud, but instead makes the case that rapid deployment of multiple cloud-based solutions and technologies can achieve significant results.

The Commission’s 2012 proposal to update the Data Protection rules, which debuted in January, addressed one of the most important barriers to cloud computing, data privacy. In the coming months, the Commission will be working on the European Strategy for Cyber Security, which is also important to the project. All these various pieces – standards, trust and security – are essential if the Commission is to meet its eventual goal, which is a Digital Single Market for Europe.