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France, Germany step up efforts to build 'sovereign' EU cloud computing

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire (L) shakes the hand of German Minister of Economy and Energy Peter Altmaier before a meeting in Paris, May 2, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Europe’s two largest economies, France and Germany, are putting together plans to build up their own "safe and sovereign" cloud computing sector, amid growing distrust between the United States and the European Union.

The two countries announced on Tuesday that they would be presenting proposals for building a European cloud network next year.

German Finance Minister Peter Altmaier cited the need for a European cloud network to “regain our digital sovereignty.”

His French counterpart Bruno Le Maire also said they “want to establish a safe and sovereign European data infrastructure, including data warehouses, data pooling and develop data interoperability.”

American companies, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google, dominate the field of data storage worldwide, with a combined market share of more than 50 percent, according to market research.

This has raised concern in Europe over sharing and storing sensitive corporate data, which could be spied on in the wake of the adoption of the US CLOUD Act of 2018.

The data sharing agreement, signed between the US and the UK, authorizes Washington to enter into information-sharing agreements with other countries for the purpose of aiding criminal investigations.

Both US tech giants, Amazon and Microsoft, have cloud computing contracts with the Pentagon and the Central intelligence Agency (CIA). 

Microsoft recently won a $10 billion contract with the Pentagon. Amazon’s cloud division also has a $600 million contract with the CIA.

France and Germany have already suggested a plan for creating a European army that could rival the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

French President Emmanuel Macron said last year that Europe had to defend itself in a “more sovereign way” and without depending “only on the United States.”

The call came after the Trump administration was reported to be drawing plans to require allies with US troops stationed in their countries to pay for the deployment.

According to Bloomberg, nations hosting US forces could be asked to pay five to six times as much as they do now under the “Cost Plus 50” formula.

Current and former administration officials briefed on the idea said at the time that as well as seeking more money, the Trump administration wanted to use it as a way to exert leverage on countries to do what the US demands overseas.

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