Germany and France have given the go-ahead for the development of a European data cloud. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) described the joint project called Gaia-X as "launch of a digital moon rocket". European companies and citizens should be able to store sensitive data in the virtual memory in accordance with strict EU protection standards.

Together with his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire, Altmaier presented the technical concept and the future organizational structure. Gaia-X should also be open to companies and organizations outside the EU as long as the European data protection rules are observed. According to Le Maire, 22 companies from Germany and France have been involved in the project so far, including Bosch, SAP and Siemens as well as France's Atos, Orange and Dassault Systèmes.

The project was launched in late 2019. Its goal is to reduce Europe's dependence on large IT companies from the USA or China, such as the largest cloud provider Amazon Web Services or Microsoft's Azure platform. For this purpose, a concept for a sovereign and trustworthy European data infrastructure is to be developed, for which already existing European offers are networked with each other via open source applications.

The corona crisis made it clear how important a secure IT infrastructure was, for example for teleworking, said Le Maire. One should not be dependent on individual major powers. "We are not the USA, we are not China, we are European countries with our own interests and values." According to Le Maire, the platform will be usable in the coming year.

According to Elie Girard, head of the French IT company Atos, it is a matter of a uniform European infrastructure for company data. "We have lost the battle for consumer data. The next wave that is ahead and not behind is corporate data," he said.

A European project on this, however, is not a "useless" protectionism, but the creation of an equal competitor. The guarantee of strict data protection standards alone will be popular. The German digital association Bitkom also confirmed that there was interest from the economy and described Gaia-X as a milestone.

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