On 19 October 2021, EU40, under the auspices of the 2021 Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, organised a high-level discussion entitled: “Transatlantic Digital Relationships: What is the way forward?”.
This organised was on the occasion of the recent formation of the US-EU Transatlantic Trade Council (TTC), inaugurated by leaders from both sides of the Atlantic who have agreed to put forward the innovative instrument after the EU-US summit held in Brussels in June 2021
The insightful discussion, moderated by Mehreen Khan from the Financial Times, touched based on some of the TTC’s objectives, which include growing the bilateral trade and investment relationship; strengthening global cooperation on technology, digital issues and supply chains; and promoting innovation and leadership by US and European firms.
Thus, EU40 brought together representatives from the European Commission, the Slovenian Presidency, the European Parliament, the White House, as well as industry leaders.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, highlighted the importance of research and innovation. Communication must be done at the worldwide level – global networks must work together in order to coordinate actions on either side of the Atlantic. There are key priorities faced by all, such as clean technology for example, which must fit within the context of the collaboration on the TTC. EU-US innovation is important in order to make a significant impact on global markets and transatlantic partnerships.
Mark Boris Andrijanič, Slovenian Minister for Digital Transformation, gave an inspiring message. The Transatlantic partnership is the foundation of a rules-based international order, as well as peace, freedom, and prosperity in much of the world. Europe has much to learn from the US when it comes to creating an environment that breeds cutting-edge innovation and global digital champions. However Europe, on the other hand, also has much to offer when it comes to forward-looking tech regulations and standards, ranging from privacy to digital markets and AI. There is a need for comprehensive yet smart regulation of digital markets and services to ensure fair competition, safeguard our core values, and foster innovation.
Peter Harrell, Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness at the White House National Security Council, brought the his expertise and knowledge of being an insider of the Biden administration. On the TTC, he acknowledged that there are still some issues to iron out over hard bargaining – from both sides. However, there is a need in coordinating the actions and announcements all over the globe. Harrell pointed out that the will was always there to get it done, and that reflects how much desire and commitment there is on both sides of the Atlantic.
Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament (S&D) & EU40 President, put forward the European perspective. Europe is a global standard setter in many areas, but especially in digital – GDPR is an important example, as is all the work done on the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, and the new Chips Act. Rules must be set to achieve common goals, and we must discuss together all of our trade relationships & common priorities, as well as exchange standards and practices for clear obligations, especially in terms of controlling data & cyber defense.
Franc Bogovič, Member of the European Parliament (EPP), acknowledged the differences of the two sides of the Atlantic. There is a gap, as regulations do not always align between the EU & US. When it comes down to it, the TTC may indeed be that tool that can bridge the gap. The EU cannot do it alone, neither can the US, and cooperation is necessary – we have seen with COVID the positive impact of what it means for corporations to cooperate.
Miglė Niauraitė, Senior Director for Government Affairs at Siemens, welcomed a fresh start for industry with the transatlantic agenda. This should provide a forum for dialogue between the public and private sectors, to provide the opportunity for collaboration and alignment between trade and technology. These are essential areas which must be tackled in order to move forward. There is common ground between the EU and the US, and there must be common solutions for the transatlantic markets, as well as convergence and achievable outcomes.
Karan Bhatia, Vice-President Public Policy and Government relations at Google, highlighted the importance and positive aspects of technology during the last two years of the pandemic. When we needed to stay home, different technologies offered the possibility of continuing education online, for example. Digital technologies gave us the opportunity to continue our lives as best we could, though they also highlighted challenges – such as cybersecurity – which affect everyone, globally. The TTC thus needs to address these significant issues we all have in common.
Find the full recording of the virtual event here: