Governments throughout the world are beginning to see digital infrastructure—the data centers, subsea cables, terrestrial fiber and satellites that move data and enable digital applications—as being just as important as physical infrastructure like oil and gas pipelines. For this reason, it’s no surprise that geopolitical competition to build and control that digital infrastructure is heating up in many parts of the world.
In Europe, this competition is playing out in interesting ways. Foreign investment in digital infrastructure is pouring into the E.U., particularly from the U.S. and China. From the U.S. side, this investment has been driven mostly by big tech companies like Meta and Google. Together, the two companies are leading more than two dozen subsea cable projects throughout the world, many of them landing in Europe.
Hybrid infrastructure for a digital advantage
Build a high-performance, secure and flexible hybrid infrastructure to power your successRead More
From the Chinese perspective, subsea cables have emerged as the latest front in the country’s geopolitical rivalry with the U.S. Examples include the PEACE Cable System, a project backed by HMN Technologies—formerly known as Huawei Marine Networks. When complete, the cable will provide a direct route between France and Singapore.
Social media companies from both East and West have also been investing in European data centers. TikTok’s oft-delayed project in Dublin will become the company’s first data center in Europe when it eventually opens. The project is part of the company’s efforts to address concerns about its ties to the Chinese government and prove it can handle customer data in a responsible and trustworthy manner, in line with local data privacy regulations.
Meanwhile, Meta’s data center projects in Europe show the contrast in how different E.U. member states handle foreign investments, from the warm welcome the company has received in Spain so far to its more troubled reception in the Netherlands. This highlights a key challenge standing in the way of European digital sovereignty: E.U. member states and companies based in those countries show a tendency to act in their own best interests and compete directly with each other, rather than coming together to pursue common goals.
Work with a trusted partner to overcome digital sovereignty concerns
So, what does this mean for enterprises looking to do business in Europe? Leaders in the E.U. recognize the need for an overarching digital sovereignty strategy, but it’s still unclear exactly what that strategy might look like. To ensure they can continue operating profitably in Europe for many years to come, regardless of what happens on the political side of things, enterprises need to get proactive. This means building out a distributed, interconnected digital infrastructure that allows them to move, store and share data throughout the continent, without opening themselves to regulatory scrutiny.
As the world’s digital infrastructure company™, Equinix offers the colocation and interconnection services needed to make this happen. Equinix services can safely account for the entire lifecycle of business data in Europe by helping companies:
- Land data from subsea cables directly into Equinix data centers.
- Store data in colocation facilities while maintaining complete control.
- Transfer data within Europe via private interconnection.
Land data directly into Equinix data centers
The first challenge for multinational businesses looking to utilize digital infrastructure in Europe is often getting data into the continent without placing it at risk. If there’s a backhaul involved with getting data from a cable landing to a colocation facility, that could increase the number of organizations handling the data, and thus make it more difficult to ensure it’s being handled properly.
Several Equinix IBX® data centers are landing sites for cables that connect Europe with the rest of the world. This includes both Bordeaux, where the AMITIE and Dunant cables connect Europe with the U.S., and Genoa, where the 2Africa cable connects Europe to Africa and the Middle East. Wherever your data originates, you have options that allow you to move it from a cable system directly into an Equinix facility.
Store data at Equinix while maintaining control
Once data reaches Europe, the next challenge for multinational enterprises is determining how to store it securely. Working with a trusted colocation provider such as Equinix allows you to quickly tap into data storage without creating regulatory issues in the process.
Equinix IBX facilities are located in key metros throughout the continent, making it easy for you to access colocation services wherever you need them. Crucially, Equinix provides only the power and space needed to store customer data. Beyond that, customers can maintain complete control over the data they store with us. As a result, they are free to manage their data in a way that ensures compliance with any applicable regulations from local jurisdictions.
Transfer data securely with Equinix Fabric
The last aspect of the data sovereignty equation is being able to move and share data securely without placing it at risk. Equinix IBX facilities throughout Europe are connected by Equinix Fabric™, our software-defined interconnection service. This allows businesses operating in Europe to create direct, private connections across the continent, whether that means connecting to service providers for sovereign cloud services or bringing together their digital infrastructure across different locations in Europe via data center interconnection.
Equinix Fabric allows businesses to move their data wherever it needs to go in Europe without having to cross the public internet. In addition to the clear benefits this provides around data sovereignty and security, it also helps ensure lower latency and greater cost-efficiency.
Prepare for the future of European digital sovereignty with Equinix
Equinix can be the trusted infrastructure partner that keeps your data in the right hands no matter where it needs to go in Europe. Whether it’s getting data into Europe, storing it within Europe, or moving it securely across Europe, Equinix is here to help. Since Equinix can safely account for the entire lifecycle of your data, there’s no need to worry about who owns which cable or which data center, and what that might mean for your regulatory exposure.
To learn more about how the Equinix approach to hybrid infrastructure can help you effectively balance performance and security, in Europe and throughout the world, read the ebook “Hybrid infrastructure for a digital advantage” today.
 Politico, “Finnish-US internet cable planned to bolster Europe’s digital trade with Asia”. Clothilde Goujard, December 2021.
 South China Morning Post, “China builds undersea cable bases amid digital infrastructure rivalry”. Laura Zhou, December 2021.
 Submarine Telecoms Forum, “PEACE Cable to Extend to Singapore”. March 2022.
 TechCrunch, “TikTok delays opening of first European data center again”. Natasha Lomas, April 2022.
 DatacenterDynamics, “Meta plans €1bn data center in Toledo, Spain”. Peter Judge, March 2022.
 DatacenterDynamics, “Meta data center in Zeewolde facing opposition by Dutch Housing Minister”. Georgia Butler, March 2022.
 European Council on Foreign Relations, “Network effects: Europe’s digital sovereignty in the Mediterranean”. Matteo Colombo, Federico Solfrini, Arturo Varvelli.