The European Commission (EC) has said it will work with the US and Japan to prevent data protection regulation from curbing the uptake of cloud computing across the region.
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According to the EC, up to €45bn could be spent on cloud computing by 2020. But barriers to adoption include differing national legal frameworks, portability of contracts and a lack of interoperability standards for cloud computing.
In its Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe strategy paper, the EC said the European Union (EU) should deepen its structured collaboration with international partners.
Along with sharing experiences and joint technological development, the EC called for legal adjustments to promote more efficient and effective cloud roll-out. According to the EC, the absence of common standards and clear contracts deters would-be users from adopting cloud solutions.
EC vice-president responsible for the Digital Agenda Media Neelie Kroes said: "Cloud computing is a game-changer for our economy. Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains.
"We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe.
"We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head-on."
Need for EU legal transparency over cloud
The EC said cloud providers and users needed clearer rules for the delivery of cloud services, covering areas like how legal disputes are resolved and the ability to move data and software between different cloud providers.
EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding said: "Europe needs to think big. 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 EC proposed earlier this year, and the development of safe and fair contract terms and conditions."
The EC has tasked European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to coordinate with cloud providers to identify by 2013 necessary standards for security, interoperability, data portability and reversibility.
The EC will work with ENISA to develop an EU-wide voluntary certification schemes for cloud computing, covering data protection.