The European Union is gripped by economic malaise, social unrest, and deep uncertainty about its future as a cohesive body. But at least its governmental regulators can agree on one thing: there’s a need for more cloud computing. To that end, the European Commission (the EU’s executive body for proposing and enforcing legislation, including antitrust statutes) has issued a plan hinging on three key actions: Standards & Certification: Wherein technical standards for optimum interoperability, data portability and reversibility will be identified by 2013, with an eye toward developing a list of “EU-wide voluntary certification schemes” by 2014. Contract Terms & Conditions: Developing model contract terms for issues such as data ownership, preservation and disclosure. The European Commission believes this will “accelerate the take-up of cloud computing by increasing the trust of prospective consumers.” European Cloud Partnership: Which would aim to promote the “better public procurement” of cloud services in Europe, including “join procurement across boarders.” Goals of this action include making the public sector more efficient, as well as promoting a “European cloud industry.” “You shouldn’t have to have a law degree to use the cloud,” Neelie Kroes, the EU Telecoms chief, told Reuters. “But today, many potential users think it’s too complicated, too risky, or too untrustworthy.” Regulators apparently believe that cloud computing could help raise the EU GDP to the tune of nearly 1 trillion Euros by 2020, in addition to creating lots of new jobs and helping make Europe a more competitive force in the technology world. There’s also the issue of any EU cloud standards remaining compatible with those in the United States. “A global set of standards that is market driven provides predictability for industry and consumers alike while encouraging investment and innovation,” Karim Lesina, chair of the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union, told The Wall Street Journal. Certainly more certainty regarding data residency and ownership would ease the concerns of many European cloud-software users, and government services made more efficient by the cloud would be good for pretty much everyone except those contractors who make better margins off inefficient systems. At the same time, however, the number of interested parties and the mind-boggling number of issues and regulations all but guarantee this is a process that will take some time.   Image: European Commission