The European Commission (EC) has its collective heads in the clouds -- and sees millions of new jobs there -- thanks to a new strategy designed to help increase the adoption of cloud computing across the continent.

The strategy,  "Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe" aims to create 2.5 million new jobs for the European Union (EU) member nations -- through greater adoption of cloud computing technologies. The agency says that the increase could lead to an annual boost of EUR 10 billion, or about 1 percent of the EU GDP, by 2020.

Cloud Partnership

In order to reach that promised land in the sky, the strategy recommends several actions. These include the identification of technical standards that help cut through the current mishmash related to interoperability, data portability and reversibility.

It also calls for EU-wide certification for “trustworthy” cloud providers, development of model “safe and fair” cloud computing contracts with Service Level Agreements and the creation of what it calls a European Cloud Partnership.

The Cloud Partnership would be between EU member countries and leading companies in the industry, and it would use the public sector’s buying power to boost the European cloud market. The strategy notes that 20 percent of all IT spending in the EU runs through the public sector, and recommends that focusing this market power could “boost the chances for European cloud providers to grow to achieve a competitive scale, and deliver cheaper and better eGovernment.”

Cyber Security Next

In a statement accompanying the strategy, EU Vice President Neelie Kroes described cloud computing  as “a game changer for our economy.” Without a concerted action by the EU, she said, “we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains.”

The cloud strategy is part of a series of efforts by the EU to stimulate the digital economy and create a digital single market for member nations. In January, the EU proposed a comprehensive reform of the 1995 data protection rules, in order to strengthen online privacy rights and decrease the administrative costs of different privacy implementations among the 27 member states.

In the next few months, the EU is expected to propose a European Strategy for Cyber Security. In 2010, the U.S. federal government, in a move to promote cloud computing in the government, issued a “cloud-first” policy that directed its agencies to use cloud-based solutions whenever feasible.