The European Cloud Initiative – Sharing innovation to boost growth

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The Commission's European Cloud Initiative aims to create a world-class data infrastructure geared to the scientific community to be used by researchers and scientists and subsequently by public services, innovative SMEs and industry, making it possible to move, share and re-use data in order to boost Europe's competitiveness. Under the Digital Single Market strategy, the proposal is part of a first industrial policy package. The proposed actions are expected to mobilise close to 50 billion euro of public and private investment in the next 5 years and to create and reinforce links between national initiatives for the digitisation of industry and increase investment through strategic partnerships and networks.

According to Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for research, development and innovation: "(…) The benefits of open data for Europe's science, economy and society will be enormous".

On 21 September 2016, the EESC adopted an opinion on this proposal which goes further, asking the Commission to open the Cloud to all citizens and businesses. The EESC recommends that the hardware and software need to be acquired in Europe and urges the Commission to initiate a major programme together with the Member States to develop new, highly-qualified jobs and encourage young European scientists working outside the EU to return. The Committee further points to the need for technological education and training for every age group of the European population paying special attention to women, who should be enabled to reach senior positions. It also proposes to launch wide-ranging consultations on the decisive question of governance and suggests setting up a Single Digital Europe Portal to offer businesses and the public a clear and secure legislative framework in such a strategic, but fast-changing sector.

Since 2011 the EESC has put forward a number of recommendations urging the Commission to take bold measures and "to encourage Europe to position itself at the forefront of this promising sector, helped by leading companies". Antonio Longo, rapporteur of the EESC opinion on the European Cloud Initiative, said that: "The cloud initiative is only the first step in the right direction".