Policy discussions about cloud computing in Europe have at times been fraught with protectionist rhetoric. Exacerbated by Edward Snowden’s revelations on government surveillance, there have been calls for data location requirements, procurement preferences for European providers, dedicated French or German cloud networks, and even a “Schengen area for data” as ways to promote deployment of cloud services wholly focused on the European market.
While BSA fully supports efforts to promote cloud computing in the EU, these types of policies would run contrary to the borderless nature of the cloud and hamper, not encourage, cloud uptake.
In this regard, BSA supports the efforts of the European Commission, which has now concluded a public consultation on the Trusted Cloud Europe report published in March by the European Cloud Partnership Steering Board, the Commission’s advisory body on cloud computing. The report wisely notes that cloud computing can be an “enabler for growth, productivity and job creation, capable of generating benefits for citizens, businesses, and public administrations” in Europe. But we particularly welcome that the report acknowledges the risks inherent in a protectionist approach to cloud computing. Indeed, the Trusted Cloud Europe report explicitly rejects calls for a Europe-only cloud, stating:
“It is clear that the economic potential of European cloud services depends on the ability to avoid any semblance of a ‘Fortress Europe’ model where access to the European cloud market is de facto restricted to providers established in the EU. Non-European cloud providers should be able to access the European cloud market on equal terms…”
This is a notable shift, and we encourage the European Commission to continue moving toward a more balanced and global approach to a regulatory framework for cloud computing in Europe. It’s this kind of thinking that will allow European citizens and enterprises to capitalize on the economies of scale cloud computing is designed to deliver globally, and create more opportunities for European and international service providers to create value for the Single Market and economies around the world.
The cloud computing market in Europe today is vibrant and diverse. A range of providers compete on service levels, privacy and security protections, and even data storage locations. Competition will continue to drive innovation in response to user needs and requirements, and EU cloud policy should seek to encourage this diversity — not constrain it. That has been well recognized by the European Cloud Partnership Steering Board in this report.
In our submission to the Trusted Cloud Europe consultation, BSA strongly endorses the report for rejecting data protectionism and the idea of a “Fortress Europe.” We also share the view that a framework of best practices for cloud providers and users will best facilitate the shift to cloud computing in the public and private sectors. As the cloud is subject to a range of existing and upcoming legislation covering security, data protection, consumer rights, a standalone regulatory regime is unnecessary and would lead to additional costs, complexities, and conflicting obligations.
In order to achieve a single European market for cloud, we believe it is important that the Commission continues to educate European citizens, businesses, and public administrations about the tremendous potential of the cloud. Vice President Kroes has been a vocal proponent of the many benefits cloud computing can bring, and we welcome her efforts in this regard. We look forward to continuing to work with the Commission to drive confidence in cloud services in order to speed the uptake in Europe.