What is the problem? [E.g. Europeans want to be informed on data security breaches]
The public sector across Europe, in order to fulfil its obligations to its community, citizens and businesses, is a major procurer of IT systems. Using cloud computing, these public services could be offered with more flexibility and better adapted to actual and evolving needs, while at the same time keeping costs down by exploiting economies of scale offered by cloud computing. Unfortunately, despite the clear potential benefits, there appear to be many barriers for moving to the cloud, such as fragmentation of markets, contractual problems, risk of lock-in, data control and protection issues etc.
Why is EU action required?
The public sector across Europe needs to be empowered to reap the many potential benefits of moving to the cloud, while avoiding the potential pitfalls. By joining forces, public sector organisations will not only be able to keep and improve their level of service, but also to become more cost-effective. Furthermore, by using their collective procurement weight and exchanging experiences and best practises public sector organisations can play a significant role in forging a clear and secure framework for cloud adoption across Europe. Take-up of cloud by public procurers will spill-over to many other cloud users, including SMEs, and will stimulate the market toward a truly digital single market for IT services across Europe.
What has the Commission done so far?
According to Key action 3 of the cloud computing communication [COM(2012)529], the European Cloud Partnership was established. It contains two major components. On the initiative of VP Kroes a cloud Steering Board was set up with 20 high-level decision makers from IT and telecom industry and national IT policy making. They had their first meeting on November 19, 2012. Priorities were identified and agreed on; these are currently being elaborated and will result in specific cloud computing lighthouse activities in areas of trust, service level agreements, contracts, software and security. Secondly a call for proposals was published to invite public sector organisations across Europe to join forces to prepare for the procurement of cloud computing services using the mechanism of pre-commercial procurement. Member States have responded positively to this call, and provided a proposal for joint pre-commercial cloud activities which is currently in full process of elaboration.
What will the Commission do?
Following the successful set-up of the European Cloud Partnership, the Commission will consider further expansion, widening and deepening of the pre-commercial cloud computing activities for the public sector in Europe. This will allow more Member States to join this work and to address additional areas of public procurement where pre-commercial procurement could be mutually beneficial. As to support further steps towards the actual joint procurement of cloud services, the Commission will consider supporting the initial joint procurement of innovative solutions. The outcome of the lighthouse activities of the cloud Steering Board will be used to cross-fertilize the joint initiatives in cloud computing by the public sector.