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Kroes said the C4E initiative will help provide clarity for public sector procurers buying cloud services

Kroes said the C4E initiative will help provide clarity for public sector procurers buying cloud services

Cloud for Europe (C4E), a European Commission-funded project aiming to give European public authorities a standard procurement framework for buying cloud services launched in Berlin Friday. Head of the European digital agenda Neelie Kroes said the project marks a significant step towards achieving a single European market for cloud computing.

C4E’s goal is to provide a “clear view on the public sector requirements and usage scenarios for cloud computing,” and the project stakeholders say the group will help give public sector procurers insight into technical standards relevant to cloud, key security standards, performance requirements, and data protection aspects relevant for all kinds of public sector projects.

The group will also work to identify cultural and technical obstacles preventing the use of cloud computing in the public sector, and help define services and approaches to overcome these obstacles.

The project, which involves 23 organisations including government ministries, public sector groups and universities from 11 European member states and runs until June 2016, was initially outlined this summer. It is part of the European Cloud Partnership, a pan-European cloud computing strategy which seeks to bring industry and the public sector together to work towards the development of a single European market for cloud computing.

European Commission vice president and head of the European digital agenda Neelie Kroes said that the C4E initiative was an “enormous step forward” in the Commission’s attempt to propel Europe to the forefront of cloud computing, which includes stimulating demand by encouraging public sector procurement.

“Working together — industry and governments, researchers and standards bodies — we can bring down barriers, build trust, and take off into the cloud. I am very much looking forward to the results[of this initiative]. We need to analyse those barriers, before we can remove them. Really understanding problems like compliance, risk management, liability, audit and so on,” she said.

Kroes took the opportunity to outline her / the Commission’s view of a “European Cloud,” which some have interpreted to mean a pan-European cloud infrastructure to house European data.

“For me a European cloud does not mean a new centralised European super-infrastructure. Our role is rather to federate and enhance national, regional and local initiatives. Allowing people, products and services to freely circulate without borders and barriers,” she said. “Already many Member States are consolidating isolated datacentres into national clouds. But how about more ambition? What about joint pan-European cloud storage? What if we had public sector systems working across borders, for more resilience, better services, and greater economies of scale?”

She also said barriers to the free flow of data throughout Europe, which the EU’s new data protection legislation aims to resolve, are preventing the use of these technologies in both the private and public sector – and holding Europe back from realising the “great opportunity” cloud computing offers the continent.

“We don’t need national mini-clouds, we need a European cloud that is trustworthy, secure and ambitious. We aren’t there yet. There are many barriers to data flows within Europe. We need to identify them, figure out how you might dismantle them, and look at the costs and benefits.”

The C4E project launches the same week another EU-funded initiative tackling standard contract clauses for cloud service providers gets underway.