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Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
Ensuring the Cloud happens with Europe, not to Europe
European Internet Foundation event on Cloud Computing
Brussels, 27 March 2012
Ladies and gentlemen,
I'd like to tell you about some of the exciting things on offer from new developments in Cloud Computing. And how we can ensure that, here in Europe, we get the most out of them.
Already information and communications technology are huge, representing half our productivity growth. According to one new study, by 2016, the EU Internet economy could be over 800 billion euros: over 5% of GDP.
The Cloud takes that further. In the five largest Member States alone, over five years, the Cloud could be worth 2000 euros for each and every citizen. And create a million new jobs too.
When you look at how much the Cloud could offer, this is hardly a surprise.
Our businesses, especially the small businesses and start-ups, can benefit from flexible, cheap and tailored solutions. Without expensive set-up and capital costs: as long, of course, as you don't have to get involved in extended legal discussions every time.
And it's not just businesses who could benefit. In the UK, the government expects to save 20% of annual IT expenditure through harmonising the software for e-Government. Scientists and researchers, too, increasingly need to share huge amounts of data flexibly – and the Cloud gives them a new tool to do this.
That's an amazing potential: we need to make sure we're taking full advantage.
Already, investing in ICT pays off better than most other kinds of capital investment. That applies to political investment, too. If we put the effort in today to ensure the right policies, then we can make the Cloud not something we lurch and stumble towards – but something we embrace.
And make no mistake: without action there could be barriers in the way. Our extensive consultations with stakeholders have shown this very clearly. Potential users are seriously uncertain if not confused: they don't know how their data will be protected; whether they will need a law degree to sign up for a contract with confidence; they are concerned about enforceability, lock-in, and data portability. For example, 90% of Cloud users would have no idea about who is legally liable in case of a cross-border problem.
Meanwhile in individual countries, I see national systems developing on national lines. And leaving Cloud data potentially locked within one country. Users, including public users, should be able to benefit from access to the whole digital Single Market if it makes sense for them.
I want us to get this right. I don't want those trying to get into the Cloud to have to face obstacles everywhere they look. To resolve one issue only to have another appear, like the many heads of the Hydra. Rather, I want us to take a strategic and unified approach.
I don't want buying Cloud services to be plagued by uncertainty and rumour, nor something that requires expensive legal wrangling. You don't have to do all that when you buy a loaf of bread – nor should you when you buy Cloud services.
When it comes to public procurement, I don't want a tangle of incompatible public sector requirements pulling this still-young market in every direction. Rather I want a common approach when it comes to issues like standards, security, and lock-in. That would be good news for the users of public services, good news for the taxpayer, and good news for stimulating this developing market.
And I don't want 27 different ways to solve all these issues within Europe, creating new barriers within the digital Single Market. If our ambition were limited we might be content with data being locked up in national fortresses. But with a European approach we can make life easier for potential users – and maximise their benefits from the Cloud.
That is why we are setting out a clear strategy on Cloud Computing. It will show how to overcome these issues. Creating a horizontal policy perspective on the Cloud so that we don't take away with one hand the benefits we give with the other. 10 million euros to start the new European Cloud Partnership that will develop common requirements for public sector Cloud procurement – and, I hope, much more. Working internationally to ensure global solutions for a global resource. And other measures from training and awareness to standardisation programmes.
With those measures we can ensure the Cloud happens not to Europe but with Europe.