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Gaia-X is an initiative to develop a federated secure data infrastructure for Europe, and ensure European digital sovereignty.[1] It aims to develop digital governance, based on European values of transparency, openness, data protection, and security,[2] which can be applied to cloud technologies to obtain transparency and controllability across data and services.[3] The project name is a reference to the Greek goddess Gaia.[4]

Originally presented at the 2019 Digital Summit in Dortmund, Germany, the initiative is under the von der Leyen Commission of European strategic autonomy[5] and is under continuous development.[6] The initiative is based in Belgium and has the legal form of an international non-profit organization (AISBL). It aims to develop a proposal for the next generation of data infrastructure for Europe, and promote the digital sovereignty of European users of cloud services.


The reported objective of Gaia-X is to design the next generation of a federated European data infrastructure. To accomplish this it hopes to specify common requirements for a European data infrastructure and develop a reference implementation.

According to the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi), openness, transparency and European connectivity are central to Gaia-X. The stated goal of this digital ecosystem is to ensure that companies and business models from Europe can be competitive. Gaia-X's objective is not to become a Cloud service provider or a Cloud management platform. The implementation of Gaia-X is described as not being intended to create a competing product to existing offers (e.g. hyperscalers). Instead, its stated aim is to link different elements via open interfaces and standards, in order to connect data and make them available to a broad audience. Gaia-X also reportedly seeks to enable the creation of different types of innovation platforms.[6][7]


According to its project statement, the project aims to combine existing central and decentralized infrastructures to form a "digital ecosystem" using secure, open technologies with clearly identifiable Gaia-X nodes.[8] The ecosystem will have software components from a common repository and standards based on relevant EU regulations.[9] Gaia-X intends to offer significant benefits from a data and infrastructure perspective, including innovative cross-sector data cooperation and more transparent business models.[9]

Gaia-X Association AISBL[edit]

Gaia-X Association AISBL was established in June 2020 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law (French: Association Internationale sans but lucratif, short: AISBL) and headquartered in Brussels.

The founding members on the German side[10] included:

The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, the International Data Spaces Association, and the European cloud provider association CISPE were co-founders of the Gaia-X Association.

On the French side, founding members included:

The development of the necessary components will also be pursued.[11][12]

Palantir, the controversial California-based company that forms part of the US military-industrial complex, was revealed in 2020 to have been part of GAIA-X since “day one”.[13]

Gaia-X Hubs are set up at country level in order to animate the Gaia-X communities locally. Germany and France have already set up hubs. The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, and Italy announced, during the November 2020 Gaia-X Summit, they were in the process of doing so.[14]

Structure of the organization[edit]

The Gaia-X European Association for Data and Cloud AISBL is composed of four main bodies:[15]

  • The Board of Directors (BoD), the decision-making body of the organization, elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. Only organizations with worldwide headquarters in Europe may be elected to the Board.
  • The Policy Rules Committee (PRC), appointed by the BoD. The PRC defines the Policy Rules Document, which lays out rules to be fulfilled by members and services declared within Gaia-X to reflect the "European Values" of Gaia-X (Transparency, Data Protection, Portability, Security).
  • The Technical Committee (TC), chaired by the Chief Technical Officer, which defines the
    • mandatory Functional specifications;
    • mandatory Technical specifications;
    • mandatory Compliance specifications, being translated from the PRC; and
    • optional specifications for a reference implementation.
  • The Data Space Business Committee (DSBC), which supports the creation of data spaces around requirements of users of cloud services in vertical markets: Financial Services, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Space, Energy, etc. The DSBC was added at a later stage.

Policy Rules[edit]

Gaia-X's Policy Rules intend to identify clear controls to demonstrate the European values of Gaia-X, such as Openness, Transparency, Data Protection, Security and Portability.

Every service offering to be provided under the umbrella of / via the Gaia-X framework must comply with these requirements. The first version was published in June 2020; they were updated in April 2021[16] and November 2021.[17]


The planned architecture was described in a June 2020 publication.[18] On 12 January 2021, the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) of RWTH Aachen University in Germany announced the implementation of a secure, decentralized, IoT data space based on the Gaia-X model.[19] A total of 4 locations were connected, one by Fraunhofer IPT.

Senseering, WZL, Fraunhofer IPT, and Fraunhofer FIT were planning to establish a state-wide Gaia-X compliant IoT data space for the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the DataMarketPlace.NRW.[20]

Political support[edit]

The then German Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, supported by the French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, initiated Gaia-X as a project during the summer of 2019.[21] They issued a common press release in October 2019,[22] and a first Franco-German Position Paper followed on 18 February, 2020.[23]

A specific joined press conference took place, with both Altmaier and Le Maire, in June 2020 (source: programme), including the announcement, by the 22 Founding Members, of the Gaia-X Association AISBL. That announcement achieved broad press coverage: Reuters,[24] AFP, Politico,[25] El Pais,[26] Les Echos,[27] Business Insider,[28] TagesSpiegel,[29] and Europe1.[30]

In September 2020, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, mentioned Gaia-X in her first State of the Union Address[31] in front of the European Parliament, as a key building block of the European Digital Strategy.

Will Hutton, writing in The Guardian in October 2020, indicated Gaia‑X is part of a wider strategy to tackle the abuse of personal privacy and monopoly status by US‑based tech giants.[32]


Early in the Gaia-X project, open source software advocates warned against corporate capture of Gaia-X by large companies. They referred to Gaia-X as a possible Trojan horse of big tech in Europe, and made comparisons to the French State-sponsored cloud project Andromeda that had been launched 10 years earlier and which resulted in public funds benefiting large non-European industry players.[33]

In November 2021, the French cloud provider Scaleway, one of the founding members of Gaia-X, announced it was leaving the association. Other participants expressed doubts about the initiative's net benefits.[34]

Gaia-X has registered delays in its implementation due to infighting between its corporate members. Participants from companies and government have expressed disappointment with the project.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Goujard, Clothilde; Cerulus, Laurens (26 October 2021). "Inside Gaia-X: How chaos and infighting are killing Europe's grand cloud project". Politico. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  2. ^ Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie. "Gaia-X vollzieht wichtigen Schritt hin zu einer souveränen europäischen digitalen Infrastruktur" (PDF). Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Home - Gaia-X: A Federated Secure Data Infrastructure". Retrieved 21 June 2023.
  4. ^ "Frequently asked questions about the Gaia-X project: Common digital infrastructure for Europe". 2 October 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2022. The name Gaia-X comes from a goddess in Greek mythology; Gaia is the wife of the sky god Uranus. In addition to the personification of the Earth, Gaia also symbolises one of the primordial deities, in the sense of an original element of the universe.
  5. ^ "Europe on a Power Trip". EU Scream. 9 November 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
  6. ^ a b Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie. "Gaia-X - A Federated Data Infrastructure for Europe". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  7. ^ Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie. "Schlaglichter der Wirtschaftspolitik". pp. 10–17. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  8. ^ Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie. "FAQs on the Gaia-X project". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Gaia-X: The European project kicks off the next phase" (PDF). June 2020. p. 3. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Offizieller Start der Gaia-X AISBL". (in German). 16 September 2020. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  11. ^ Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (6 June 2020). "Germany and France take the lead as Europe makes first step towards building a European data infrastructure". Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  12. ^ Happacher, Meinrad (8 June 2020). "GAIA-X Start der Nutzergruppe". Computer & Automation. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  13. ^ Howden, Daniel; Fotiadis, Apostolis; Stavinoha, Ludek; Holst, Ben (2 April 2021). "Seeing stones: pandemic reveals Palantir's troubling reach in Europe". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  14. ^ "Talque". Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  15. ^ "Association".
  16. ^ Policy Rules Document 2014[dead link]
  17. ^ Policy rules document 2022
  18. ^ DE-CIX Management; Eggers, Günter; Fondermann, Bernd; Maier, Berthold; Ottradovetz, Klaus; Pfrommer, Julius; Reinhardt, Ronny; Wilfling, Sabine; Rollin, Hannes; Schmieg, Arne; Steinbuß, Sebastian; Trinius, Philipp; Weiss, Andreas; Weiss, Christian (June 2020). GAIA-X: technical architecture — Release June 2020 (PDF). Berlin, Germany: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  19. ^ WZL of RWTH Aachen University. "Press release - Using data sovereignly". Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  20. ^ WZL of RWTH Aachen University. "Press release - DataMarketPlace.NRW". Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  21. ^ "Peter Altmaier and Bruno Le Maire present the European data infrastructure project GAIA-X".
  22. ^ "Press Release on Franco-German common work on a secure and trustworthy data infrastructure".
  23. ^ "Franco-German Position on GAIA-X" (PDF). 18 February 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  24. ^ "ACN | Noticias de Venezuela y el mundo". Archived from the original on 20 February 2017. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  25. ^ "Germany, France launch Gaia-X platform in bid for 'tech sovereignty'". POLITICO. 4 June 2020.
  26. ^ Ayuso, Silvia (4 June 2020). "Europa lanza Gaia-X para disputar el control de la nube a Amazon, Microsoft o Google". EL PAÍS.
  27. ^ "La France et l'Allemagne défendent un cloud souverain européen". Les Echos. Archived from the original on 9 June 2020.
  28. ^ Aguiar, Alberto R. (4 June 2020). "Qué es GAIA-X, la respuesta europea para dejar de depender de la nube de Amazon, Google o Microsoft que ya prepara sus primeros prototipos para 2021". Business Insider.
  29. ^ Voß, Oliver (5 June 2020). "Wie das europäische Projekt die US-Dominanz bei Clouds beenden soll". Der Tagesspiegel Online.
  30. ^ "Gaia-X : le couple Franco-Allemand lance un "cloud" européen". Europe 1. 5 June 2020.
  31. ^ "Press corner".
  32. ^ Hutton, Will (18 October 2020). "Europe and America are taking on the tech giants. Britain needs to join the fight". The Guardian. London, United Kingdom. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  33. ^ Fermigier, Stefane Oliver; Franck, Sven (23 November 2020). "Gaia-X: A trojan horse for Big Tech in Europe". Euractiv. Retrieved 27 February 2022.
  34. ^ Noyan, Oliver (19 November 2021). "Cracks appear as Gaia-X celebrates its progress". Euractiv. Retrieved 27 February 2022.

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