On 27 September the European Commission published a communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the potential of storing, processing and use of data on remotely located computers accessed over the internet or “cloud computing” in the European Union (“EU”). The importance of the implementation of cloud computing is demonstrated by estimations of 600 billion euro in increased revenues of companies by 2020 in the 27 EU Member States through new possibilities for innovations and access to technologies, which increase the productivity. Over 80% of the companies, which already use the technology, informed of decrease of their expenditures on IT with 10 -20 %, and the savings of 20 % of them reached 30 % and more. In addition, the use of cloud services would benefit SME’s, that could acquire access to remote markets being thus exposed to new economic development opportunities.
According to the general definition, provided in the communication of the Commission, cloud computing can be understood as the storing, processing and use of data on remotely located computers accessed over the internet. The proposed strategy introduces a single set of rules and boosts the use of cloud computing by European businesses. After accepting some basic general steps that need to be taken to facilitate the development of cloud computing services in an EU-wide level, such as the establishment of fair competition between cloud providers in the internal market, the simplification of copyright clearance and the introduction of commonly accepted standards that could guarantee the safe storage and processing of data, the Commission provides the specific key objectives and actions of its cloud computing strategy.
Firstly, the Commission intends to undertake a standardization and certification project which will clarify the existing standards, aiming at developing confidence in cloud computing via comparable service stacks and interoperable offerings. That shall be executed through the cooperation of The European Telecommunication Institute and the European Network and Information Security Agency.
Second, it is suggested that uniform safe and fair contract terms and conditions shall be introduced. As possible ways of supporting this activity are perceived the reviewed standard contractual clauses for international data transfers, cloud-friendly binding corporate rules along with the creation of an expert group to handle the relevant actions and the introduction of a code of conduct for cloud computing providers.
Also, the Commission sets up a European Cloud Partnership (ECP) which will bring together industry expertise and public sector users to work on common procurement requirements for cloud computing in an open and fully transparent way. It is believed that the interest for the procurement of cloud services amongst public bodies and authorities will increase significantly in the EU over the coming years.
Last, stimulation measures and international cooperation are suggested as additional actions to be taken.
All in all, the present communication constitutes a particularly important EC initiative, which should be considered in conjunction with the recent proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation and the intended future initiatives on cyber security.
For more information: HERE