Kroes, seen here meeting with Fiat Chief Sergio Marchionne, wants Cloud computing to help improve competitiveness (Photo: EU Commission)

European Union Commissioner Neelie Kroes this week made an impassioned plea for a European Cloud strategy, saying a coordinated approach to the new technology could generate major savings for businesses and private individuals.

The EU commissioner, who is in charge of the 27-nation bloc's so-called "Digital Agenda," said at a Brussels conference that a European approach to Cloud computing is better than a national one because of the greater potential for economies of scale.

"If we take a national approach, content ourselves with small Clouds stuck in small markets, if we lock data within old borders, then we are limiting our Cloud ambition," Kroes said in prepared remarks.

She noted that, in Germany alone, Cloud computing could generate more than 200 billion euros in economic benefits in the next five years. The UK government expects to save 20 pc on IT expenditures by adopting a Cloud-based software approach.

Kroes also cited the legal ramifications of Cloud computing as an incentive for a Europe-wide strategy. It's hard to say whether the limited liability of service providers for hosted content, which is customary in most countries, also applies to Cloud computing, she noted.

"National case law diverges, resulting in a good deal of uncertainty," Kroes said. "No wonder 90 pc of Cloud users wouldn't know who is legally liable in case of a cross-border problem."

Kroes justified a proactive approach by Brussels authorities by pointing to the financial benefits, the need to build trust and the requirement to have open competition in the market for Cloud services.

Kroes said her European Cloud Partnership, which brings together public authorities, industry, Cloud buyers and Cloud service suppliers, will help "ensure a coherent policy area supporting Cloud computing."

The EU commissioner made her remarks at the Economic Council Symposium on Cloud computing held in Brussels June 25.