What is the problem?
The advantages of cloud computing are numerous and there is no doubt that cloud is bound to play a major role in tomorrow's economy. The benefits of cloud services for the economy are illustrated in a study contracted by the Commission. It is in fact estimated that cloud can contribute up to €250 billion to the EU GDP in 2020 – that could reach a total cumulative gain of €940 billion for the period 2015-2020  EU needs to ensure that challenges linked to the use of cloud are transformed into opportunities for European companies in order to fully exploit the possibilities that cloud is offering and mitigate the risks.
Why is EU action required?
EU action is required to speed up and increase the use of cloud to the benefit of users and services providers alike.
What has the Commission done so far?
In September 2012, the Commission adopted a Cloud Communication , which aims at enabling and facilitating faster adoption of cloud computing throughout all sectors of the economy which can cut ICT costs, and when combined with new digital business practices , can boost productivity, growth and jobs. The Communication consists of the tree key actions: 1) standards and certification, 3) model contract terms and 3) European Cloud Partnership (ECP).
The Commission asked ETSI to identify by the end of 2013 a detailed map of the necessary standards (for inter alia security, interoperability, data portability and reversibility) and will work with the support of ENISA and other relevant bodies to assist the development of EU-wide voluntary certification schemes in the area of cloud computing (including as regards data protection) and establish a list of such schemes by 2014.
The Commission has also started to work in order to develop model contract with stakeholders model terms for cloud computing service level agreements for contracts between cloud providers and professional cloud users. Furthermore, the Commission will set up an expert group to identify before the end of 2013 safe and fair contract terms and conditions for consumers and small firms. The third key action of the Communication, the European Cloud Partnership, which is an alliance driven by key IT services procurers from European public bodies in cooperation with captains of the IT and telecom industry, has an aim to drive innovation and growth from the public sector.
What will the Commission do?
The Commission will deliver on the key actions identified in this Communication in 2013, notably in respect of the actions on standardisation and certification for cloud computing, the development of safe and fair contract terms and conditions and the European Cloud Partnership.
The following actions and studies are foreseen or in progress, in link with Action 53 ("Financially support joint ICT research infrastructures and innovation clusters"):
- Standards terms and performance criteria in service level agreements for cloud computing services
- Certification schemes for cloud computing
- Financial/tax aspects of cloud computing services
- Uptake of Cloud in Europe. Follow-up of IDC Study on Quantitative Estimates of the Demand for Cloud Computing in Europe and the Likely Barriers to Up-take
The Commission will also report on the progress on the full set of actions described in the Communication and present further policy and legislative proposals initiatives as needed.
 IDC (2011): Quantitative estimates of the demand for cloud computing in Europe and the likely barriers to take-up
 COM (2012) 529 – Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe
 Kretschmer, T. (2012), “Information and Communication Technologies and Productivity Growth: A Survey of the Literature”, OECD Digital Economy Papers, No. 195, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k9bh3jllgs7-en