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Europe lays out grand plan for hassle-free cloud

ZDNet - European businesses are set to benefit from better harmonised cloud standards and contracts, under a hefty new strategy released by the European Commission on Thursday.

The strategy, Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe (PDF), aims to sort out three main problems with cloud adoption in the EU, namely the "jungle of standards", contractual issues and differing national legal frameworks.

"Cloud computing is a game-changer for our economy," digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement. "Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains. We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe. We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head on."

Key changes for industry include the need to agree fairer and clearer terms for service-level agreements, as well as a data-protection code of conduct. The Commission is also pushing for standards around security, interoperability, data portability and the environmental impact of cloud computing.

The long-awaited cloud strategy is intended to boost the EU's annual GDP by €160bn (£127bn) by 2020, an increase of one percent. The Commission said in its statement that it will lead to a net gain of 2.5 million jobs. However, it said in its main strategy document that 3.8 million jobs will be created, so 1.3 million jobs associated with in-house IT would presumably be destroyed by the massive shift to the cloud.