The European Commission (EC) has outlined a cloud computing strategy that aims to boost European business and government productivity.
The strategy, dubbed Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe, aims to deliver a net gain of 2.5 million new jobs across Europe and a total GDP increase of €160bn (£127bn) a year, by 2020.
It said that the economic benefits of pan-European action were far better than individual initiatives but encouraged EU countries' efforts with their own cloud programmes.
"While cloud initiatives in the member states are welcome, such as Andromède in France, G-Cloud in the UK and Trusted Cloud in Germany, this is not enough and not the most efficient way to grow the market for everybody's benefit," a European Commission memo stated.
The main aims of the strategy are:
Speaking at a conference to launch the strategy today, the vice president of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, warned that the strategy will only deliver the intended benefits with the right policies in place.
"It will only happen if we get the policies right. Without the right policies, the economic benefits will be just a fraction of [those stated]. You shouldn't have to have a law degree to use the cloud. But today, many potential users think it's too complicated, too risky or untrustworthy," she said.
"We need to remove those barriers. If we do remove them, virtually every company, 98 per cent of them, says they would increase or start investment in the cloud."
The EC said that the total gain of the strategy could be nearly €600bn (£477bn) between 2015 and 2020 but only "if the full EU cloud strategy is in place" – without that, economic gains would be two-thirds less. It also said that 81 per cent of businesses already using the cloud achieve cost savings of at least 10 per cent.
In a statement, EC vice president Viviane Reding added: "The cloud strategy will enhance trust in innovative computing solutions and boost a competitive digital single market where Europeans feel safe. That means a swift adoption of the new data protection framework, which the Commission proposed earlier this year, and the development of safe and fair contract terms and conditions."
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A discussion of the "risk perception gap", its implications and how it can be closed