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EU hopes cloud tech to create over 2 mil. jobs

BRUSSELS -- The European Union must do more to harness the potential of cloud computing, its executive said Thursday, in a bid to create more than 2 million jobs and avoid falling behind other parts of the world.

The technology, in which data is stored remotely, has prompted fears regarding data security and uncertainty over the applicability of national laws on data stored in third countries.

“We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head-on,” said Neelie Kroes, the vice president of the European Commission and head of the bloc's digital agenda.

She described cloud computing as a “game-changer” for the 27-member bloc's economy, with the European Commission estimating that it could generate 2.5 million jobs by 2020.

Experts consider cloud computing to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in digital technology, but Europe risks falling behind the U.S. by failing to keep up with developments.

“Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains,” Kroes said. “We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe.”

Cloud computing, a technology used by services such as Facebook and Web-based email providers, involves the storage of data and software on remote computers that are accessed via the Internet, reducing business costs and increasing flexibility.

The commission's strategy calls for the identification by 2013 of areas requiring common standards; support for certification schemes to build trust; the development of model contract terms for cloud computing; and cooperation between EU industry and member states to achieve economies of scale.

Microsoft welcomed the move, noting the potential of cloud computing to boost jobs and growth in times of austerity.

“The strategy provides a framework for further harmonization, clarity and assurances businesses need to move to the cloud and bring growth and technological innovation to Europe,” said Stephen Collins of Microsoft.

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