The CLOUD Cluster Projects Meeting: facilitating synergies among projects for policymaking

After a first meeting in January, Horizon 2020 projects funded under the H2020 call “DT-GOVERNANCE-12-2019-2020: Pilot on using the European cloud infrastructure for public administrations” met on the 23rd of January to discuss the possibilities to collaborate and to join efforts to provide inputs on policy recommendations on the topic of cloud infrastructures.

The aim of the first meeting in January 2021, jointly organized by REA B3 and CNECT H4, was to share information on policy priorities, on activities of projects related to CLOUD, on needs for support and possibilities for collaboration among projects and policymakers. The projects (DUET, PolicyCLOUD, DECIDO, Intelcomp, AI4PUBLICPOLICY) had the opportunity to introduce the project presenting the key ideas, different legal, ethical and security aspects, co-creation and generation of data strategies, as well as the scalability, interoperability and reusability of their analytical tools.

From the policymaker side, CNECT Units H4 and E2 presented the policy priorities and initiatives related to the Cloud topic. CNECT H4 presented the current digital government policy, which builds on the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020. Furthermore, Member States gave an impetus to the digitalisation of governments, including by using novel technologies, in the Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment and the Berlin Declaration on Digital Society and Value-Based Digital Government. The Commission also reminded participants of the Council conclusions of 1-2 October 2020, in which the Council stated that ‘Greater European cloud capacity, together with an empowering interoperability framework, should also enable the deployment of safe and secure cloud-based public and private digital solutions, including ensuring faster and more efficient, convenient and transparent access to e-government services’. Building on these conclusions, the Commission is currently working on a strengthened digital government strategy.

The first meeting created a foundation to facilitate the collaboration among projects with the aim to provide some inputs to CNECT as policy recommendations, in the view of the new digital government policy.

The projects involved, with the support of REA B.3 decided to meet again on the 23rd of February, to discuss how to plan practical actions to create synergies among the projects. The main discussion was on the main topics on which a collaboration can be envisaged, like co-creation aspects, ethical and legal aspects, sharing of experiences and of tools. The creation of an ambassador system, to facilitate exchanges of information among projects on these specific topics, was also discussed.

With this collaboration, new projects can benefit from the experiences of already mature ones, and the whole cluster can progress and advance on certain topics together. Case studies and experiences can be shared, and projects can learn from other results, which could be very effective especially during this pandemic period. A publication with different chapters by different projects, and a jointly written white paper with policy recommendations, were also discussed and taken into consideration. In this way the impact could be multiplied and the research could be framed in a longer time span.

The Research Executive Agency (REA), and the European Commission’s Directorates-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT) truly hope that the setting up of this informal collaboration and exchange network could help projects to have a greater impact on shaping a new digital government policy.

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