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Advancing Transatlantic Relations

When I touched down in Brussels last month, it had been 19 months since my last in-person trip to the EU capital. Within that time, the unprecedented global pandemic has highlighted the importance of the technology sector in powering how we work, learn, and interact together. For example, the shift online allowed me to host virtual meetings and events with Brussels-based EU officials, even when I couldn’t be there in person.

As economies around the globe rebuild, the reinvigorated relations between the EU and U.S. are a welcome and necessary step to increase bilateral cooperation and deepen engagement on technology policy. Visiting Brussels this time around, I saw great enthusiasm around the potential for this cooperation to deliver concrete outcomes and address key technology policy issues of vital importance for citizens and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. I was honored to host European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager at an ITI event in Brussels, and my meetings with other Commission leaders and Members of the European Parliament were productive, engaging, and optimistic.

A New Sense of Hope with the Transatlantic Trade and Technology Council (TTC): The positive momentum of EU-U.S. relations following the launch of the Transatlantic Trade and Technology Council (TTC) is a great testament to the Council’s potential to foster collaboration on key policy issues. ITI was the first association to propose and support the TTC to align priorities and achieve convergent approaches on priority policy issues that require transatlantic coordination, and the only global trade association to address its inaugural meeting.

The political leadership on both sides as well as the practical and effective Working Group structure will be fundamental to achieve concrete near-term deliveries. As discussions move forward between the U.S. and EU, coordination around Artificial Intelligence governance and standardisation, a common approach to the semiconductor shortage, and export controls are pressing issues that must be at the top of negotiators’ agendas. Experts from ITI continue to stay engaged in the Working Groups’ efforts.

The Importance of a Transatlantic Data Flows Agreement: Cross-border data flows between the U.S. and the EU are the largest in the world, representing the backbone of the digital economy and underpinning critical trade relationships for most U.S. and EU industries. To achieve true cooperation between the two sides, it is of the utmost importance to continue and advance negotiations for a successor agreement to the Privacy Shield.

Finding creative solutions to address the key concerns of the Court of Justice of the EU will be paramount to achieve a durable solution and restore business continuity. Considering the importance of data flows to enable the digital economy, a renewed transatlantic data flows agreement will also bolster the TTC’s ongoing work and lay the foundation for future success.

Advance Objective and Pro-Innovation Digital Regulation Agendas: Both the EU and the U.S. continue to pursue their own parallel digital regulation agendas. Here, it is paramount that both jurisdictions prioritize balanced and objective rules to address potential challenges arising from digitization and seek to achieve convergent approaches. For example, I had the chance during my visit to Brussels to engage with stakeholders and policymakers on the proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA). As a first mover in this space, the EU has the key role to craft balanced and proportionate rules, based on objective criteria and paired with key procedural and substantive due process safeguards.

As the premier global advocate of the tech sector, ITI engages in policy discussions around the world – and we know many regions are looking at these same questions. It is thus important that the EU continues to consult with its international partners and develops rules that help foster a global convergence that supports all companies.

What’s Next? The historically close relations between the EU and the U.S. have always been paramount to ITI and its members. As we move forward together, let us continue the positive strides to enhance transatlantic cooperation between our regions for sustainable global leadership. I hope my next visit to Brussels will be set against the backdrop of stronger transatlantic relations and the same optimism for digital policy based on our shared values of democracy, responsible technology, and innovation.