Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron have independently expressed reservations about Europe’s reliance on American and Chinese for data storage.
Merkel made the point last week that companies outsource data storage to the US (Google/Microsoft, limiting the scope for European “digital sovereignty.” The same view was expressed by Macron during an interview with The Economist, who said that within a decade it will be hard to distinguish between data-owning and processing platforms, making regulation increasingly difficult.
The emerging concern about “digital sovereignty” – control over data by individuals and companies – poses the question of reliance on US platforms. As Europe plays a relatively minor role in shaping the digital market ecosystem, the fear is that regulatory frameworks such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be of decreasing consequence.
In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Andrea Renda of the Brussels-baed think tank CEPS noted that 94% of data in the Western world is stored in the U.S, while six out of ten big tech companies are American. There is not a single EU firm on that list.
Germany is launching an initiative called Gaia X with the objective of developing competitive, secure and trustworthy data infrastructure for Europe restoring some of the EU pool in the global digital market.