In a significant development, France and Germany have thrown their weight behind plans to create a cloud computing ecosystem aimed at reducing Europe’s dependence on established tech giants including Google, Microsoft and Amazon.
The project, dubbed Gaia-X, aims to establish common standards for storing and processing data on servers that are sited locally and comply with the EU’s strict laws on data privacy.
Speaking in Berlin, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier described Gaia-X as a “moonshot” that would help reassert Europe’s technological sovereignty; he invited other countries and companies to join the project.
“We are not China, we are not the United States, we are European countries with our own values and with our own economic interest that we want to defend,” said Bruno Le Maire, French Economy Minister in Paris in a joint video news conference.
The development sees, Europe’s power house economies, France and Germany, stepping up economic cooperation to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Both countries have backed an EU-wide recovery plan while Berlin has just announced a major fiscal stimulus.
As a first step, twenty two French and German companies will set up a non-profit foundation to run Gaia-X.
“Building a European-based alternative is possible only if we play collectively,” said Michel Paulin, CEO of independent French cloud service provider OVHcloud. One important concept underpinning Gaia-X is “reversibility”, a principle that would allow users to easily switch providers.
Gaia-X’s first services are scheduled for launch in 2021.