Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Cloud computing strategy

The European Cloud Initiative aims to build trust and confidence in cloud computing in Europe. With European-wide solutions the Commission will address users' concerns, support the development and use of cloud services in all sectors of the economy and maximise the growth potential of the digital economy in Europe.

European Cloud Initiative

The Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy, adopted on 6 May 2015, aims to open up digital opportunities for people and business and enhance Europe's position as a world leader in the digital economy. The strategy includes 16 initiatives to be delivered by the end of 2016, including the launch of a European Cloud Initiative with the aim to build trust and confidence in cloud computing in Europe.

The European Cloud Initiative includes:

  • actions to provide solutions for European-wide certification, including elements of network and information security,
  • personal data protection,
  • service level agreements,
  • interoperability and data portability,
  • contractual terms and conditions,
  • the prospect of a European cloud services capability,
  • and the establishment of a European Research Open Science Cloud.

The initiative relates to several other actions of the Digital Single Market strategy such as on harmonised rules for online purchases, standards and interoperability and builds on the Commission's experience with the implementation of the September 2012 European Cloud Computing Strategy.

Some figures about cloud computing

By maximising the impact of cloud computing on Europe's digital economy, it is estimated (study on "uptake of cloud in Europe") that the initiative could have the potential to add a cumulative total of €449bn to the EU28 GDP (including the public sector), of which €103bn in the year 2020. This would represent a share of 0.71% of total EU GDP, more than 3 times the share represented in 2013.

Between 2015 and 2020 approximately 303,000 new businesses could be created, particularly SMEs, thanks to the availability and adoption of cloud-based computing. Moreover, 1.6 million jobs could be created overall from 2008 to 2020, of which almost 1 million jobs could be created during 2015-2020.

Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe (2012 strategy)

In September 2012, the European Commission adopted a strategy for ”unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe”. The strategy outlined actions to deliver a net gain of 2.5 million new European jobs, and an annual boost of €160 billion to the European Union GDP (around 1%), by 2020.

The strategy was designed to speed up and increase the use of cloud computing across all economic sectors. This strategy was the result of an analysis of the overall policy, regulatory and technology landscapes and of a wide consultation with stakeholders, to identify ways to maximise the potential offered by the cloud. The document set out the most important and urgent additional actions. It represented a political commitment of the Commission and served as a call on all stakeholders to participate in implementing these actions. Working groups were established to engage stakeholders.

Cloud Computing Working Groups

Key actions

The strategy included the following three key actions. A report on the implementation of the European Cloud Computing Strategy was published in July 2014 as a Staff Working Document accompanying the Data-driven Economy Communication.

  1. Safe and Fair Contract Terms and Conditions

    The aim of the cloud computing strategy was to develop model contract terms that would regulate issues such as:

    • data preservation after termination of the contract,
    • data disclosure and integrity,
    • data location and transfer,
    • ownership of the data,
    • direct and indirect liability change of service by cloud providers and subcontracting.

    Identifying and disseminating best practices in respect of model contract terms will accelerate the take-up of cloud computing by increasing the trust of prospective consumers.

  2. Cutting through the jungle of Standards

    Cutting through the jungle of technical standards so that cloud users enjoy interoperability, data portability and reversibility was one of the aims of the strategy.

    The Cloud Standards Coordination (CSC) Phase 1 took place in 2013 and primarily addressed the Cloud Computing standards roadmap. In December 2013 the results were publicly presented in a workshop organized by the EC. The CSC Final Report is available online.

    The Commission worked with the support of European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) and other relevant bodies to assist the development of EU-wide voluntary certification schemes and establish a list of such schemes by 2014.

  3. Establishing a European Cloud Partnership

    The European Cloud Partnership (ECP) brought together industry and the public sector to work on common procurement requirements for cloud computing in an open and fully transparent way.

    The ECP Steering Board provided advice to the Commission on strategic options to turn cloud computing into an engine for sustainable economic growth, innovation and cost-efficient public and private services.

    The public sector has a key role to play in shaping the cloud computing market. But with the public sector market fragmented, its requirements have little impact, services integration is low and citizens do not get the best value for money.

    Part of the ECP is the Cloud-for-Europe (C4E) initiative, aiming at helping Europe's public authorities procure cloud products and services, so as to build trust in European cloud computing.

    Find out more about the scope and aims of the European Cloud Partnership.

Last updated on 21/03/2016 - 16:09