The European Commission wants Europe to be the world’s leading “trusted cloud region,” according to a memo released on Tuesday. The memo explicitly lays out the importance of cloud adoption for European businesses and consumers, and provides the broad outlines of an ambitious plan.
The plan combines responses to the challenges and opportunities that the PRISM revelations create for European cloud adoption with work which was already begun previously. The EC memo begins by stressing the need for a single integrated European cloud market, rather than a “fortress Europe” approach. EC work has already begun engaging various stakeholders to make that happen, and the memo lays out further plans to drive adoption with a collaborative approach.
The EC recognizes out that Europe is not a leading global provider of cloud services, but does have an opportunity to leverage a reputation for “relatively high standards of data protection, security, interoperability and transparency about service levels and government access to information.” This reputation could allow European companies to gain some of the $35 billion dollars in market share which the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says may leave US companies in the wake of the PRISM program.
Security concerns have contributed to slow cloud adoption in Europe, according to the memo, and PRISM coverage threatens to reinforce those concerns, so the plan involves setting up Europe-wide standards and regulations to ease customer fears. One example of this is “the proposal for the data protection regulation.”
The EC also wants to focus on standards and voluntary certification, as already outlined in the “Unleashing the potential of the Cloud Computing in Europe” strategy, which was adopted in September of 2012. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute “has already delivered an intermediary standards overview in June 2013 and is planning to deliver final results before the end of 2013.”
The memo provides basic explanations of what cloud computing is and why it is inherently more secure than traditional network approaches, and encourages encryption and fair contract terms for cloud computing.
The memo also notes that the public sector is the largest customer of IT services in Europe, and can “set the right framework for Europe’s cloud business to get ahead.” To encourage this, the EC supports the “Cloud-for-Europe” initiative.
The memo suggests that “small firms are the bedrock of the European economy” and have the most to gain by cloud adoption. The EC recently began offering vouchers for cloud services to SMEs to encourage adoption.