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Gaia-X was created to allow for the secure, open, and sovereign use of data. In this way, self-determined decisions can be made on how and where data is stored, processed, and used within the data infrastructure. Gaia-X is characterised by the following core elements:

  • We want to create the next generation of data infrastructure for Europe, its states, its companies, its citizens, and its global partners.
  • This infrastructure needs to meet the highest standards in terms of digital sovereignty and foster innovation. We regard this infrastructure as the cradle of an ecosystem, where data and services can be made available, collected, and shared in an environment of trust.
  • The concept focuses on the precise needs of users and the added benefit as presented by the use cases.
  • The existing concepts will be regarded as a proposal to Europe. We are pursuing this path alongside other European partners and in cooperation with the European Commission.

This page shall explore and clarify 6 main questions frequently asked about Gaia-X:

  • What the association shall be and does
  • What is sovereignty and the relationship with institutions
  • What is the relationship between Gaia-X and extra-european operators, in particular Hyperscalers
  • Role in the context of IPCEI, RRF and of other public funding initiatives
  • Data spaces objectives and deliverables within Gaia-X
  • Role of the Hubs and relationship with Gaia-X

There are three reasons why we need Gaia-X:

  1. Data availability: We need a trustworthy, secure, and transparent data infrastructure to exchange and process data. This is how we can use the economies of scale created by the availability of large data sets in Europe.
  2. Innovation: We require a digital ecosystem that allows for the development of innovative products while also assisting European businesses and business models in scaling up and becoming globally competitive. Gaia-X serves as the foundation for this.
  3. Data sovereignty: Existing cloud offerings are currently dominated by non-European providers. They are able to rapidly scale their infrastructure and hold significant market power and large amounts of capital. At the same time, we are seeing growing international tensions and trade conflicts globally. Europe must ensure that it can permanently establish and maintain digital sovereignty.

Gaia-X aims to create standards, foster software communities and facilitate the creation of data spaces. Therefore, Gaia-X focuses on three outcomes:

  • Architecture specifications describe the functionalities of Gaia-X and provide conformity criteria.
  • Open-source software code to ensure an open implementation of federation services and further enable an open-source community.
  • Instruments of certification including methods and tools for conformance testing and certification of services.

The Gaia-X organisational structure is built on three bodies: the Gaia-X Association, the national Gaia-X Hubs and the Gaia-X Community. Within these, there are various working groups and committees. The exchange within the pillars, and towards other stakeholders (e.g., EU Commission, international initiatives) is ensured.

The Gaia-X Association is an international non-profit association under Belgian Law (French: association internationale sans but lucrative, in short: AISBL). It aims to develop regulatory frameworks, ensure that necessary services are made available, consolidate, and facilitate the work and collaboration within the Gaia-X community, represent the members of Gaia-X and promote international cooperation.

The Gaia-X Hubs act as the voices of user ecosystems at a national level. They develop ecosystems, bundle national initiatives, and provide a central contact point to interested parties in their respective countries. All Gaia-X Hubs are in close exchange with each other to ensure international alignment about their activities, defining requirements, and identifying regulatory hurdles. The network of Gaia-X Hubs will support the growth of a dynamic ecosystem from a bottom-up approach, from a national level to a European and international level.

Gaia-X will foster and support an open-source software community in which all contributors are welcome. The Gaia-X Community works together on a common platform based on work packages. Members and non-members collaborate side by side, from both the user and provider perspectives.

In general, the term ‘data space’ refers to a type of data relationship between trusted partners, with each applying the same high standards and rules to the storage and sharing of their data. The data space concept, on the other hand, emphasises that data are not centrally stored and are thus only shared (via semantic interoperability) when necessary. The data in the data spaces in the Gaia-X context are held exclusively by the Association’s members. Data sovereignty and trust are critical for the operation of data spaces and the relationships between participants. To ensure these, the International Data Spaces Association (IDSA), a founding member of the Gaia-X Association, has proposed a reference architecture model for participants. Each data space provides unique data that serves as a solid foundation for each ecosystem. The software required to implement data spaces runs on cloud/edge cloud infrastructures.

An international team of more than 340 members, 15 Hubs and 14 data spaces are working together to make Gaia-X possible. Established large corporations coexist with young start-ups. Numerous cloud solution providers collaborate with representatives from a variety of industries, including manufacturing, finance, transportation, and mobility. Furthermore, participation is broad: state institutions, associations, and research institutes, in addition to the private sector, are involved in this large-scale project. This helps to avoid the possibility of only solving very specific problems or developing solutions in isolation. Gaia-X is open to new interested parties to develop it further. Everyone can participate in the way that best suits their needs. For instance, they can contribute with their technical expertise, suggest new use cases or actively and continuously participate in open working groups.

Gaia-X is distinguished by its openness and transparency. Gaia-X remains open to welcome new European and cross-border participants and contributors in the future. Market participants within and outside Europe who share our goals of data sovereignty and data availability may also participate in Gaia-X. The European Commission comfort letter contains additional information in this regard.

In general, there are three ways to get involved:

  1. Represent the project as an member, joining a community of over 340 members
  2. Contribute to the national Gaia-X Hubs, working hand in hand with your country coordinator
  3. Participate in the Gaia-X Community by attending its events, calls and meetings, become a speaker or panelist, submit blogs and articles, position podcasts and many more.

Europe and its member states already run a number of initiatives that lay the groundwork for Gaia-X. Codes of conduct, rules, standards, and community building are examples of these. Gaia-X is not a greenfield project – it will build on such existing results and activities. This openness to national and European initiatives with similar objectives as Gaia-X gives the project a strong momentum for joint European cooperation. Building upon existing solutions and their further development, we want to launch competitive offers from Europe out onto the world market.

The project can be seen as a proposal addressed to Europe.  The system is intended to be open and not restricted by national borders.. We want to pursue this path with partners from Europe and are in communication with other countries, the EU Commission and international companies and organisations. Against this background, efforts are already underway and an intensive dialogue with the Commission is taking place to align the European cloud federation and Gaia-X and make these a success as part of the European data strategy. In its data strategy, the Commission announced that it ‘will foster synergies between the work on European cloud federation and Member States’ initiatives such as Gaia-X’. In addition, a large number of countries have already joined Gaia-X and established a national Gaia-X Hubs. In parallel, the Association collaborates closely with further countries in order to develop a thriving Gaia-X network across Europe.

The Gaia-X Labelling is a set of automatable rules that enforce the same level of verified descriptive information for all entities in the Gaia-X Conceptual model, primarily Participants and Service Offerings. The Gaia-X Labelling result is a Verifiable Credential from a technical standpoint.

GXFS is an abbreviation for Gaia-X Federations Services, and it is the Gaia-X toolbox for creating interoperable ecosystems based on the Gaia-X Reference Architecture. GXFS is one of the Gaia-X deliverables.

The GXFS specifications are being developed in the Federation Services Working Group.

No. Please check the ‘What is Gaia-X Compliance?’ and ‘What are GXFS?’ questions.

The Gaia-X compliance can be obtained for a Self-Description file by submitting the file to an instance of the Gaia-X Compliance Service.

On November 25, 2021, Gaia-X released its first Labelling Framework. Check back on publications for all versions to-date.

An ecosystem is an independent group of participants that directly or indirectly consume, produce, or provide services, such as data, storage, computing, network services, including combinations of them. Further details can be checked in the Gaia-X Architecture Document glossary.

Please subscribe to the Gaia-X newsletter here to stay up to date with the Gaia-X activities. In addition, future and potential new members can attend regular onboarding webinars to stay up to date. Please click here to register for one of the upcoming events. More information is available on the Gaia-X website. The publications and use case sections are equally worthwhile to be checked.

If you have further questions, please reach out the Gaia-X team using the following contact form.