The European Union is set to introduce a set of guidelines for cloud computing covering such areas as data protection, privacy regulations and common approaches to cloud deployment.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, European digital commissioner Neelie Kroes said there were among some of the major issues facing cloud computing and that the European Union itself had a part to play in the process. "This is a complex situation and nobody is likely to have all the answers. And cloud computing, in some form, will happen anyway," she said. " But the EU has a role to play: we can help make it happen smoother and faster"

With so many governments – not least the UK's – looking for ways to cut public spending, Kroes addressed the cost-saving element in the technology but warned that it would not mean relaxing other safeguards. "As cloud users, including public sector organisations, look for better value for money we can expect productivity gains across Europe's economy as a whole. A clear role of governments is also to ensure that European achievements, such as effective data protection and the EU's Single Market, do not clash with cloud computing," she said.

Kroes outlined the three key areas that the EU would get involved in: the legal framework eg data protection and privacy; technical and commercial fundamentals particularly in areas such as security and in the technical standardisation of APIs and data formats. Finally, said Kroes, the EU would support pilot projects aiming at cloud deployment.

Security was a key concern for Kroes. She pointed out that Enisa had just released a report on cloud security and this was an area that the EU was continuing to monitor.

Kroes concluded by saying that there would be a series of meetings in Brussels in spring between cloud providers and cloud customers.