The European Commission has set out plans to invest €2bn in a “trustworthy and energy efficient” cloud computing alliance as part of a drive to unshackle the bloc from US digital infrastructure.
The initiative was included in a package of measures unveiled by senior Commission officials today in a bid to restore the continent’s “technological sovereignty”.
The funding, which would form part of a €15bn investment in Europe’s “Digital, Industry and Space cluster”, will be funnelled into a “High Impact project on European data spaces”, according to the Commission.
Details of the plans remain elusive, but it’s expected that the funding will go towards the Gaia-X programme, a French and German-led initiative aimed at bringing together cloud providers from across the continent. The initiative has attracted criticism from the US tech industry, which, primarily thanks to Amazon Web Services, dominates the global infrastructure-as-a-service market.
Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday, the Commission’s industry czar Thierry Breton said that a key plank of the plans would focus on creating shared trusts for industrial data. “The battle for industrial data starts now and Europe will be the main battlefield. Europe has the largest industrial base. The winners of today will not be the winners of tomorrow,” he told reporters.
The Commission also published proposals on Wednesday to redraft antitrust laws, police online content and create legislation governing artificial intelligence, amid concerns that the EU is failing to keep pace with the US and China on technology and that existing measures to rein in firms such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple have failed to effect long-lasting change.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, new Commission president Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) said: “Europe’s digital transition must protect and empower citizens, businesses and society as a whole. It has to deliver for people so that they feel the benefits of technology in their lives. To make this happen, Europe needs to have its own digital capacities – be it quantum computing, 5G, cybersecurity or artificial intelligence (AI).”
The Commission plans to consult on the plans over the coming months, before bringing forward legislation later in the year.
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