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What’s Next for the Transatlantic Trade and Technology Council?

On 12 October 2021, ITI hosted a hybrid panel event, “What’s Next for the Transatlantic Trade and Technology Council (TTC)?” at Euractiv Studios. The event was moderated by ITI’s President and CEO Jason Oxman and featured a live panel debate and a keynote speech from European Commission Executive Vice President, Margrethe Vestager.

Speakers

  • Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President, European Commission
  • Ruth Berry, Director for Digital Technology Policy, National Security Council, The White House
  • Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, MEP, European People’s Party, Greece
  • Matthias Jorgensen, Head of Unit of the U.S. and Canada Unit, DG TRADE, European Commission
  • Diane Mievis, Head of EU Telecoms, Sustainability & Trade Policy, Cisco

In case you missed it, you can find a recap of the event below or watch the event here.

Following the first meeting of the TTC on 29 September in Pittsburgh, this event gathered distinguished panelists representing the technology industry as well as high level policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic to discuss potential ways forward for this transatlantic forum.  

Jason Oxman opened the discussion by pointing out ITI’s strong and early support for the work of the TTC as a key vehicle to promote innovation on both sides of the Atlantic and create convergent approaches to technology policy issues. He noted that the ten working groups under the TTC have a great potential to deliver value to consumers and businesses on the two sides of the Atlantic for instance in finding convergence on some key issues such as semiconductors and Artificial Intelligence.

“We are all familiar […] of the vital role that technology products and services play in our ability to adapt to and eventually recover from the pandemic. The global economy is working hard to bring prosperity back post pandemic, and the technology industry is helping power that recovery.” Jason Oxman, President and CEO of ITI

In her keynote speech, Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager expressed satisfaction with the first meeting of the TTC and noted the importance of the TTC for enhancing transatlantic cooperation. “Pluralism, democracy, equality, free and open markets, and respect of the planet - These are the values that have connected the U.S. and the EU,” she stated, calling for both powers to enhance bilateral cooperation and harness technology to translate shared values into concrete deliverables for society.

“I was struck by the openness of our discussions [during the opening of the TTC], the sense of purpose to combine our weights to build a positive vision for democracies, to lead a global digital transformation, and base that on shared values.” - Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President, European Commission

In response to Margrethe Vestager’s speech, Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou also voiced her support for the TTC, a sentiment echoed by all panelists. Matthias Jorgensen noted how the TTC is another sign of re-energised transatlantic relations. He and Diane Mievis noted that the focus of the new Council should be tackling global trade challenges and avoiding trade barriers. Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou also stressed the need for an approach towards non-market economies and trade issues around countries like China, a sentiment echoed by Matthias Jorgensen.

“It is very important for us to define what the TTC is designed to do. […] It’s not a top-down legislative exercise. It’s a forum, called the Trade and Technology Council, for trade and technology communication, trade and technology collaboration, hopefully trade and technology convergence, and maybe trade and technology consensus. Our long-term Transatlantic relationship relies on compatibility [between the US and EU].” - Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, MEP, European People’s Party, Greece

Overall, panelists’ optimism for the future of the TTC and U.S.-EU relations was the highlight of this discussion. Diane Mievis highlighted the industry’s support of the TTC, outlining 3 main calls for action for the Council, including boosting connectivity, addressing trade challenges, and cooperation on sustainability. Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou noted the positive momentum around US-EU relations in the European Parliament and the importance to balance policy action with the need to foster technological innovation. Matthias Jorgensen explained DG TRADE’s expectations from the TTC, which include growing bilateral trade and investment, mutual recognition agreements, and harmonizing standards, all while achieving successful coordination. Regarding standards, Ruth Berry stressed the importance of cooperation and of the TTC creating support for inclusive standards bodies made up of multiple stakeholders.

“It is incredibly important that we [the EU] are now in a positive trajectory and a positive dynamic with the US when it comes to trade and investment. […] The TTC is part of a number of very concrete steps that we have been able to take with the US. We have reestablished dialogue, we have put aside disputes, and we have sent a strong signal […] that we want to work together.” Matthias Jorgensen, Head of Unit of the U.S. and Canada Unit, DG TRADE, European Commission

The audience was also invited to join in on the discussion during the event with a multiple-choice question, where they were asked to choose where the US-EU TTC would have the greatest near-term impact:

1) tackling bilateral barriers to trade,

2) aligning approaches on regulation,

3) facilitating compatible approaches to technology governance, including standard setting,

4) facilitating compatible approaches on external tools.

Of these choices, the majority of listeners (45%) chose Option 3, facilitating compatible approaches to technology governance including through cooperation and standard setting.

One of the greatest challenges and opportunities is to get to a point where you can have US and EU compatibility, convergence, or alignment on how we set the rules of the road for the 21st century when it comes to the design the development and the deployment of technologies […] in a way that supports and reflects our democratic values, respect for human rights, respect for privacy, and respect for workers, as well as diversity and inclusion.” - Ruth Berry, Director for Digital Technology Policy, National Security Council, The White House

You can find a follow-up article of the event written by Euractiv here.

Read ITI’s Near Term Priorities for the TTC here. To stay up-to-date on ITI work in Europe, including future events, subscribe to our ITI Europe newsletter.

Public Policy Tags: Trade & Investment, Cybersecurity