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AWS, Alibaba, Cisco, IBM, HP, Huawei, Google, Oracle, Intel, Microsoft – pretty much the entire tech world is now on board to collaborate on the ambitious French-German cloud initiative Gaia-X. The GAIA-X Board of Directors has officially endorsed the membership of 212 new companies and research organizations seeking to join the GAIA-X project.

By allowing these 212 new members to become a member of the GAIA-X cloud project, the member list has become a notable list though. If only because of the controversial U.S. data analytics company Palantir.

Gaia-X is a French-German initiative to create a European cloud. Its founders don’t have the ambition to create their own competitor to AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform. Instead, by bringing together representatives from business, science and politics, the initiative works with existing technology partners who can offer services within a European approved framework. Gaia-X aims to improve the independence and privacy of European data.

U.S. data analytics company Palantir was the subject of much debate, in part because intelligence agency CIA was one of the first investors and is still a customer. Next to that, American and Chinese companies that have European offices are now also given a European label. For example, Google is labeled as Irish on the list of new participants, while Huawei is labeled as German. Amazon is labeled as Luxembourgian, and IBM suddenly turns out to be a Belgian company.

Palantir – U.S. and Chinese Companies

Euro-Parliamentarian Sophie in ‘t Veld (D66) in an initial reaction to questions asked by Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant called it ‘surprising and disturbing’ that American and Chinese companies are now part of Gaia-X. “Certainly a controversial company like Palantir does not seem in line with the objectives of autonomy and safety,” said Sophie in ‘t Veld.

Gaia-X thinks differently and emphasizes the progress that has been made in bringing in the new members, who will ultimately have to comply with all the standards formulated by Gaia-X. The American and Chinese companies mentioned have European offices. That’s why they are also given a European label.

Sophie in ‘t Veld is not yet reassured and is going to ask European Commissioner Breton (Internal Market) for an explanation. “It is true that it is a Franco-German initiative, but it is obvious that the European Commission must be able to guarantee that everything operates safely and in accordance with European legislation,” the European politician added.

More information is available here (De Volkskrant, in Dutch language).