Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

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A step forward for cloud computing - safe and fair contract terms

Politics is all about implementation. And today we have taken another step forward in implementing our European Cloud Strategy.

One of the big barriers to using cloud computing is a lack of trust. People don't always understand the terms in their contract: what they're paying for, and what they can expect. Well, I think you should be able to know what you're getting and what it means - and it should be easy to ensure that the terms in your contract are reasonable: open, transparent, safe and fair. Even if you don't have a law degree. Deciding on what those contracts could be is a tricky question: we need a formal expert group to take a hard look at that issue.

Today we are asking for nominations for who could sit on such a group: appropriately qualified experts who could help us undertake this important and pressing task. This is a key pillar of our European Cloud Computing Strategy - and something which I know is heavily sought after by stakeholders, especially consumers. Particularly small firms: who might hesitate to use the cloud because of fears that they will not meet their legal obligations, or who might be worried that they get locked in or stranded by changes of technology or service by cloud providers. They don't want the risk of getting mired in foreign court cases in foreign languages; nor of exposing the data which may be their business's life blood to security risks or breaches. And they cannot afford costly legal fees to figure all this out case by case.

That's important because it is those same small businesses who stand to gain particularly from the cloud. Services that are flexible and adaptable, without high start-up costs, can really help those smaller companies boost Europe's growth and jobs, it can transform how we do business and bring the best in class technologies within economic reach of small firms everywhere. With contracts that are trustworthy, safe and fair, we can - not just protect our consumers - but also give our continent a needed cloud boost.

This and other issues will be discussed at the next meeting of our European Cloud Partnership Steering Board in Tallinn on 4 July - I am very much looking forward to discussing with President Ilves and other private and public sector leaders.

Twitter hashtag: #cloudstrategy

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  • Annelise Savill's picture

    Dear Ms Kroes IACCM (The International Association for Contract and Commercial Management) is a not for profit organisation with 30,000 members in narly 11,000 corporations. We already work on contract terms standardardisation and indeed have much research on the top terms in negotation. We would be keen to support your very interesting initiative. How do we apply? 
  • Jack SCHICKLER's picture

    Hi Annelise, thanks for your enquiry, you can find full details here: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/contracts/2013_cloud-computing_en.htm
  • K Daniels's picture

    Dear Mrs Kroes, Developing fair contract terms with adequate legal protections against loss or corruption of customer data is critical. This doesn't necessarily mean accepting general terms and conditions because cloud is a commodotised offering. As IT legal counsel for a multi national in the Oil & Gas industry, we have extensive experience in standardising/ streamlining the terms under which cloud computing solutions can be effectively deployed using a risk-based approach. I would be happy to be involved in and contribute to your interesting initiative. Like Annelise appreciate if you can advise how to apply. Kind regards, Kees
  • Jack SCHICKLER's picture

    Hi, thanks for your comment and your offer to participate - officials have been in touch via email.
  • Ben Ward's picture

    Dear Ms Kroes, We are a team of cloud computing experts helping small businesses with their strategies in this area. We are interested in your initiative. Are we too late? Kind regards Ben
  • Jack SCHICKLER's picture

    Hi Ben, Thank you for your message and your interest in our work! You can find out more information about the group in the Call for applications. The deadline for applications for the expert group has unfortunately already passed (2 August). However, we still greatly appreciate participation in our European Cloud Computing Strategy. For example: a number of working groups have been set up, in general open for interested stakeholders to take part. More information on our website here.

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