European Project Gaia-X Starts the Next Phase

The concept for a European digital infrastructure has already collected laurels of advance. Now the project initiated by Economics Minister Altmaier is to be expanded.

To this end, 22 companies from Germany and France want to found an international, non-profit organization under Belgian law, the Federal Ministry of Economics announced on Wednesday before a round of talks with Minister Peter Altmaier and his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire. The names of the companies involved will be communicated to the ministerial meeting, which will take place on Thursday as a video conference.

Gaia-X was presented to the public at the Digital Summit in October 2019. The first considerations were about not having to rely on the large IT companies from the USA and China for no alternative. For this purpose, a concept for a sovereign and trustworthy European data infrastructure is to be developed, for which existing European offers are networked with one another via open source applications and open standards.

The first reactions from the USA were negative. But now the IT giants Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Google, Alibaba and other companies are now trying to be part of the Gaia-X network with their huge server farms, the so-called hyperscalers, but also with their software products and services will.

Microsoft President Brad Smith recently praised Gaia-X as a “thoughtful proposal”. Microsoft does not just want to remain in an observer position here. “The proposal states that companies from different countries can participate in Gaia-X as long as they meet objective standards for data protection and the use of data,” Smith told dpa at the time.

The Federal Ministry of Economics stated that the response to the project has been very high since the presentation last autumn: “Around 300 companies and organizations are currently involved, from start-ups to medium-sized companies to large corporations.”

In addition, scientific institutions and associations from Europe (besides France also countries such as Spain, Sweden, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Estonia and Portugal) as well as from Japan and the USA participated. The technological implementation is being worked on in more than twenty working groups. According to reports, Amazon is particularly active in the working groups. With its AWS product family, Amazon is the world’s largest hyperscaler.