The first steps to the creation of the European cloud computing platform Gaia-X have been taken, with the creation of a legal entity in Belgium.

Set up to address Europe’s dependence on American or Chinese cloud providers, 22 French and German companies, with the backing of several countries, have agreed to launch the joint venture.

DCD understands Gaia-X will function as a non-profit and involve companies such as Dassault Systemes, Orange, Siemens, SAP, Robert Bosch, Atos, Scaleway, and Deutsche Telekom.

Gaia-X will be launched next year.

European data = European rules

French economic minister Bruno Le Maire said: "The [Covid-19] crisis has shown that giant tech companies are the winners... the European digital space has to be protected.

"[Gaia-X] 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."

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Gaia-X plans to be a joint standard of APIs and data sovereignty rules for companies aiming to store data on the cloud within the EU.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier announced the birth of Gaia-X back in October (before falling off of the stage), saying: “Germany and Europe need a data infrastructure that ensures data sovereignty and enables the sharing of data on a broader and secure basis.

“Germany has a claim to digital sovereignty. That’s why it’s important to us that cloud solutions are not just created in the US.”

Private meets public

Atos and Scaleway are two companies working on the cloud project.

Elie Girard, CEO of Atos, said: “Europe’s digital leadership in the data economy requires flexible and secure cloud capabilities. By facilitating infrastructure, application, and data portability, Gaia-X will enable European businesses and public administrations to share their decentralized data in a reliable and secure way, boosting Cloud adoption and the creation of value-added ecosystems.

"This will strengthen Europe’s competitiveness because the approach is unprecedented and aims at defining a reasonable set of policies and standards consistent with European values and aspirations.”

Yann Lechelle, Scaleway’s CEO, added: "We are very proud to provide our infrastructure and digital capacity to the Gaia-X project.

"We need to establish a balance on the supply side and move away from oligopoly so that we can collectively have a voice in building the IT infrastructure of tomorrow - in Europe and the world. Gaia-X is an important step in realizing this essential sovereignty.

"Customers deserve European-level transparency, data protection, reversibility, and security. Besides that, they need to gain resilience in the overall infrastructure. Being able to adapt and adjust their operational requirements safely in the event of geopolitical conflicts, such as the recent tensions between the US and China and the Covid-19 crisis, is a key factor."