Since the autumn of 2020, Germany and France have been working intensely on the establishment of an Important Project of Common European Interest on Next Generation Cloud Infrastructure and Services (IPCEI-CIS). A total of eleven Member States are involved in the project: Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and Spain.

After GAIA-X, this IPCEI will lay another important foundation for Europe’s digital sovereignty.

Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier said: “The Industrial Cloud IPCEI will help us to set up an efficient next generation cloud infrastructure in Europe which is needed for innovative industries to be able to shape new data-driven business models in a self-determined manner. IPCEI-CIS is in sync with the European values and standards of GAIA-X and will enable a fast upscaling of GAIA-X-based applications.”

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy today launched its call for expressions of interest (details can be found here). It will select the projects and companies to participate in this summer’s European Twinning process. The funds that Germany has allocated to the IPCEI – a total of €750 million – have been secured thanks to the approval of the German Recovery and Resilience Plan by the European Commission.

The French Minister of the Economy and Finance, Bruno le Maire, said: “The IPCEI project must enable Europe to assume technological and industrial leadership on a global scale. Europe needs to be able to anticipate future technological breakthroughs and innovations – edge computing, with a forecast market share of 80% by 2025, is a case in point. Therefore, we are making investments today together with our European partners in order to provide our economy with an ecosystem of competitive European technology solutions that respect our values and laws.”

The French Secretary of State for the Digital Transition and Electronic Communications, Cédric O, said: “The cloud is an indispensable and necessary technology for the modernisation of our society. I am pleased to see the level of interest being expressed in this issue across Europe, an issue which is of fundamental importance to our autonomy and sovereignty. Europe can and must assume a leading position in this fast-growing market. The call for expressions of interest launched by France and financed within the framework of the Cloud Acceleration Strategy has already allowed us to identify some ten projects with a total volume of around €800 million which focus on edge computing, cloud computing for telecommunications networks and multi-cloud technologies.”

Thomas Jarzombek, Commissioner for the Digital Industry and Start-ups at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, said: “As we launch this IPCEI project, we are taking a bold and decisive step in Europe towards greater sovereignty and more digital innovation. To set up a next generation cloud infrastructure, European companies will have to work together closely. Europe as a whole, and especially its SMEs, stand to benefit from the outcome.”

On the occasion of the German-French Technology Dialogue on 13 October 2020, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron had agreed together with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, to improve their cooperation in the field of cloud computing and to launch common projects which may also be eligible for funding from the EU’s Build and Resilience Facility.

On 29 September 2021, COVID-19 permitting, the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU will host a kick-off event in Ljubljana to mark the beginning of the European Twinning process. A run-up event to be held on 22 July 2021 will allow the first companies to present their projects. The Twinning process serves to provide an overall concept that brings together all the projects selected by the Member States. Slovenia, which is itself participating in the initiative, has identified the IPCEI as one of the key projects of its Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The IPCEI-CIS will create an efficient ‘multi-vendor cloud-edge continuum’ for the whole of Europe. The aim is to kick-start the development of new technologies enabling massive quantities of data to be exchanged and processed in decentralised systems in real time. After all, data and data services must be able to flow smoothly, for example between in-house clouds (edge clouds) and centralised clouds. This requires the development of energy-efficient, high-performing, automated and networked cloud and edge services (see Value Chain Paper at www.ipcei-cis.de). A part of the IPCEI will also be dedicated to initial industrial-scale applications.

The plan is to prenotify the IPCEI-CIS to the European Commission by the end of 2021 with a view to receiving the body’s approval for all individual projects within the first half of 2022.

As coordinators, Germany and France have developed the contents of the ambitious IPCEI together with the participating Member States and with the support of the European Commission.