August 28, 2019 / 4:44 PM / 19 days ago

France, Germany to propose public investment in data centers for AI

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire delivers a speech at the MEDEF union summer forum renamed La Rencontre des Entrepreneurs de France, LaREF, at the Paris Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, France, August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - France and Germany are to make proposals in the coming months to invest public money in data storage facilities in order to wean Europe off of foreign centers and spur artificial intelligence investment, France’s finance minister said on Wednesday.

France’s Bruno Le Maire said the investments would be based on a recent joint initiative to finance the development of batteries, which France and Germany want in order to avoid becoming dependent on Chinese batteries.

“We will make proposals with Germany in the coming months to invest public money in data storage for artificial intelligence so that European data is protected,” Le Maire told journalists on the sidelines of an annual end-of-summer business forum.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said that Europe had fallen behind and that alternative had to be found in order not to become dependent on U.S. and Chinese companies.

“We have an interest in Europe to keep our data in Europe. We have an interest in creating sovereign data structures,” Altmaier said at the same conference.

Neither minister said how much was expected to be put into the project.

France has committed to put 700 million euros into the battery alliance and Germany 1 billion euros. The European Commission is due to give state aid approval before October.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Myriam Rivet; editing by John Irish

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