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Germany and France have launched a project to create a European cloud computing platform to strengthen the European economic sovereignty amid the COVID-19 crisis and break the continent’s dependence on US and Chinese companies, AP reported.

The platform, called GAIA-X, should be launched early next year and open to users outside of Europe who commit themselves to European standards. 

According to German Economy Peter Altmaier, the aim is “nothing less than a European moonshot in digital policy.”

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said the cloud computing project  “could not have been more timely” as Europe is trying to break out of the deep recession caused by the COVID-19. 

“With the COVID crisis, companies massively shifted to teleworking. This makes the need for (a) secure and European cloud solution all the more urgent,” Le Maire said.

“The crisis also showed that the giant tech companies are the winners … the European digital space has to be protected,” he added, noting that the new platform “will ensure the application of policy rules based on EU values and standards.”

“We are not China, we are not the United States — we are European countries with our own values and our own economic interests that we want to defend,” Le Maire said. He stressed the importance of “interoperability,” allowing companies to switch easily to the new system without losing any data.

Both ministers said the project brought together 22 companies in France and Germany, including Dassault Systemes, Orange, Siemens, SAP, Robert Bosch, and Deutsche Telekom. 

“The idea is that we invite companies across the world providing their cloud services according to European standards and rules,” Altmaier said. “Everyone who wants to have the label of GAIA-X will have to respect and to satisfy several sets of rules,” including on interoperability and data migration.

According to him, the success of the project “will be crucial for Germany, for France and for Europe as far as our economic strength, our competitivity and our sovereignty are concerned.”

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