Neelie KROES
Vice-President of the European Commission

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Making Europe the natural home of safe cloud computing

There are huge benefits in cloud computing – worth hundreds of billions of euros to our economy. Combine that with the power of the single market and we're in for a welcome boost. That's what the European Council recognised when it called for a single market in cloud computing.

As I set out in Bonn this week, revelations about the scale of online spying are shocking, and privacy is a fundamental right. But I am ultimately I'm a pragmatist; maybe it's my Dutch blood.  We should take those revelations seriously. But equally let's not be naïve: spying will not be stopped by creating new laws. We need the right technology to protect ourselves effectively. 

Two things are also clear to me. We should not turn our backs on this huge opportunity. And we should not put up barriers within our single market. Such barriers would constrain benefits and stop bright ideas from spreading: and indeed if anything they would limit European leadership, so we continue to rely on solutions from overseas.

To meet these challenges some have raised the idea of a "European cloud". But that means different things to different people. Here is what it means to me, as I set out in Berlin today:

  1. A "European cloud" does not mean a European super-infrastructure; rather, federating local and regional initiatives. And on the margin supporting the key building blocks for pan-European services, through the just-agreed Connecting Europe Facility;
  2. Boosting demand – especially from the public sector, worth one fifth of the market. And indeed in Berlin we launched "Cloud for Europe", a platform for public sector cooperation, and set out our plans to support join procurement. (A new study out today sets out some of the challenges here);
  3. Boosting supply; and indeed we have just set out our plans for research and innovation funding over the next two years, including for security and privacy;
  4. Restoring trust and transparency. Including being very clear about what will happen to data: whether and in what conditions people or governments can access it — and whether data will leave the EU.
  5. And fifth, ensuring the rules for a single market for data.  Personal data protection is an important part of that, but it's really about creating a space where data can flow and enable new services without endangering privacy: not about sharing data as such, but creating a common data space.  The single market is our crown jewel and the cloud its natural new home; hiking up the drawbridge for national fortresses does us no favours.

I was very pleased with today's meeting. We have a challenging target set by the EU's leaders: but are well on the way to answering it by the first quarter of 2014.


Andy's picture

The only thing that matters is our *jurisdiction* over our Cloud, so foreign law enforcement services in third nations do not grab our citizens and businesses data to conduct business espionage on us and our laws fully apply. We also need to ensure that more software development takes places under our jurisdiction and cloud services are open source, so anyone can inspect the code and find hidden backdoors. Why isn't there a European equivalent to the Apache Foundation, so that webserver code complies with our laws? It is really no big deal to fork the development and dump money on coding privacy law compliance. When a webserver takes logs that conflict with EU privacy laws that can be solved by adjusting the code. It can't be left to European businesses to adapt "coded law" (software) or customize the software to comply with our laws. Same for Android, the dominant software for smartphones and tablets, why don't we fork the code and make it more EU compliant? So Cell Phone providers deliver in Europe their phones with the European variant without NSA backdoors and with proper privacy compliance review. Can't be too expensive to fund that, it's pocket money for the European Commission to spent 150 Million EUR on such a Fork.

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