How Gaia-X Could Enable A European Data Economy

If we want to understand why Gaia-X is a hot topic in Europe these days, we must first look at the status quo. Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, ...

If we want to understand why Gaia-X is a hot topic in Europe these days, we must first look at the status quo.

Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud and Alibaba Cloud are currently the main cloud providers. Known as hyperscaler, most of them are also very successful platform economists.

While the first concepts for cloud computing date back to the 90s of the last century, the breakthrough of cloud computing came funnily enough as a by-product, when Amazon had to solve its load and scaling problems.

Europe was late for the party, as it simply has other industries and therefore other problems.

Today, however, things look very different.

Data is (Political) Power

The Cloud Act makes it very clear, that data is a political power.

And in the same way Gaia-X also pursues strategic political goals and not technical or economic ones.

The above mentioned hyperscaler all sit in the US or China, which automatically raises the question under which principles the huge amounts of data is processed and stored.

This is a political question and a question of values. The guiding principles of Gaia-X are:

  1. European data protection
  2. Openness and transparency
  3. Authenticity and trust
  4. Digital sovereignty and self-determination
  5. Free market access and European value creation
  6. Modularity and interoperability
  7. User-friendliness

Just as countries do not want to become dependent on third parties regarding energy security, they certainly do not want to do so in the digital world.

This is even more true in the beginning of the new multilateral world order after the corona pandemic.

China, for example, even started “Made in China 2025” long before the corona crisis. The main goal is to reduce China’s dependence. Especially in the highly complex semiconductor industry.

The Idea Behind Gaia-X

In this context, Gaia-X does not even bother the effort to lose speed by building a European cloud.

No, it aims to take the step to the next level.

Along the seven guiding principles (see above) a federal and interoperable digital ecosystem should be created.

The services and applications, as part of this ecosystem, should be cloud-native but also cloud-neutral. This applies for services in the cloud, as well as for those running at the edge.

Furthermore, achievements of the IDS will certainly flow into the so called Data Spaces, which form the important basis. They also have the potential for a worldwide standard.

Trust and control over (one’s own) data are further pillars on which completely new business models and ultimately a data economy could emerge.

An important idea behind this is collaboration and coexistence instead of dominance and “the winner takes all” mentality.

More information regarding the mechanics of Gaia-X can be found here.

A Long Way…

…that must be travelled quickly, but in small steps.

An iterative approach has the highest priority for success.
The project is doomed to failure if unrealistic concepts are now conceived in an ivory tower.

At the same time, there is a lot of catching up to do, laborious standardization work to be done and framework conditions to be set.

The cooperation with many, sometimes very large, companies is another challenge.

In the end, however, it must be said that there is no alternative and failure is not an option.

The future of Europe will be decisively shaped by this project.

In good European tradition the project is open and transparent and any interested party can become a Gaia-X hub. More than 300 organisations from different countries are already actively participating.

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Header Image Source: Pixabay, Pixabay License

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  1. Informative article, thank you!
    Personally I’m a little bit skeptical whether this big challenge can be solved in such a huge consortium.

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