The European Cloud Initiative focuses on:
- a European Open Science Cloud: a trusted, open environment for storing, sharing and re-using scientific data and results, and
- a European Data Infrastructure: a world-class digital infrastructure to securely access, move, share and process data in Europe.
The initiative builds on the results achieved under the 2012 European Cloud Strategy. It is complemented by other initiatives under the Digital Single Market (DSM) to promote the development and uptake of cloud services, focusing on certification, switching of cloud service providers and security. These actions incorporate input from the European Cloud Partnership (ECP) and the Cloud Select Industry Group (C-SIG).
Other initiatives to strengthen the digital economy include:
- The Communication on Building a European Data Economy, which supports the free flow of data and data services in the EU by examining options to remove legal and technical barriers - including cloud. During the first months of 2017, the European Commission has consulted groups concerned by free flow of data. On the basis of the evidence gathered, the Commission has proposed in September 2017 a Regulation on free flow of non-personal data which applies since 28 May 2019;
- The initiative on the digitisation of industry includes cloud take-up actions, in particular for SMEs. The European Commission has identified cloud computing standards as one of the five priority areas under the Communication on standards;
- The internet connectivity package within Digital Single Market actions is intended to provide secure, ubiquitous and high-quality (Gigabit) connectivity that will boost the usage of cloud-based services and applications.
The public consultation on the regulatory environment for platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy closed on 6 January 2016. A summary of the input is available.
Cloud computing evolution
Cloud computing is developing fast. Estimates indicate that these developments could lead to the growth of the European cloud market from €9.5bn in 2013 to €44.8bn by 2020, i.e. almost five times the market size in 2013.
The latest Eurostat data available (end of 2014) shows the current state of play in the European Union regarding the use of cloud computing by enterprises. The main findings are summarised below:
- 19% of EU enterprises used cloud computing in 2014, mostly for hosting their e-mail systems and storing files in electronic form;
- 46% of those firms used advanced cloud services relating to financial and accounting software applications, customer relationship management or to the use of computing power to run business applications;
- Four out of ten enterprises (39%) using the cloud reported the risk of a security breach as the main limiting factor in the use of cloud computing services;
- A similar proportion (42%) of those not using the cloud reported insufficient knowledge of cloud computing as the main factor that prevented them from using it.
The development of the cloud computing market and the efficient delivery of cloud services particularly depend on the ability to build economies of scale. The establishment of a Digital Single Market will unlock the scale necessary for cloud computing to reach its full potential in Europe.
The European Union also supports the development of cloud computing in Europe with research and innovation actions under the Horizon 2020 programme.