Three summits last week—G-7, NATO, and U.S.-EU—launched a wide range of transatlantic initiatives to coordinate policy, particularly on trade, technology, and defense. These new formats and dialogues can ensure a much deeper level of regulatory cooperation between the United States and Europe by exchanging perspectives, briefing materials, and in some cases, staff. For companies on both sides of the Atlantic, these emerging policy trends also open up new opportunities to engage decision-makers both in Washington and European capitals.
U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council
In what is perhaps the most significant transatlantic institutional innovation in decades, the two sides established a new format of structured meetings through the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC), as previewed six months ago. Its standing members are the U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary of Commerce, and Trade Representative, as well as the European Commissioners for Trade and for Competition. Other European Commissioners and U.S. Cabinet members may also be invited as appropriate. It appears to have broad industry support among firms and associations. And given the slew of legislative proposals in the EU aimed at the technology sector, including the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, and the Artificial Intelligence regulation, there will be much for both sides to discuss.
The TTC will initially include ten working groups: on technology standards cooperation (including on AI, Internet of Things, and other emerging technologies); climate and green tech; secure supply chains, including semiconductors; ICT security and competitiveness; data governance and technology platforms; the misuse of technology threatening security and human rights; export controls; investment screening, promoting SMEs access to, and use of, digital technologies; and global trade challenges.
The Council’s goals are “to grow the bilateral trade and investment relationship; to avoid new unnecessary technical barriers to trade; to coordinate, seek common ground, and strengthen global cooperation on technology, digital issues, and supply chains; to support collaborative research and exchanges; to cooperate on compatible and international standards development; to facilitate regulatory policy and enforcement cooperation and, where possible, convergence; to promote innovation and leadership by U.S. and European firms; and to strengthen other areas of cooperation.”
One way to understand this new initiative is as a meta-interagency process to analyze the underlying issues, generate policy options, build consensus, communicate guidance, and take decisions. The TTC is explicit about preserving the “regulatory autonomy” of the U.S. and the EU. But inherently, it will nonetheless shape policy outcomes and regulatory approaches.
The TTC’s structured, systematic, and detailed framework suggests that it will be much more than a mere exchange of talking points. Instead, it signals genuine consultation and collaboration with the aim of common decisions on the underlying topics. The universalization of video-conferencing over the past eighteen months may further facilitate this ambitious level of transatlantic coordination. And cooperation within the TTC is intended to drive efforts within broader institutions such as the G-7’s and OECD’s Future Tech Forum, with the goal of “promoting a democratic model of digital governance.”
Technology Competition Policy Dialogue
In parallel with the TTC, the U.S. and EU also launched a Joint Technology Competition Policy Dialogue to discuss antitrust policy and enforcement and increased cooperation in relation to technology-related issues. Notably, the two sides committed to establish a staff exchange program between their research funding agencies. They also singled out cybersecurity information sharing and situational awareness as an area of focus, and planned to explore developing a new research initiative on biotechnology and genomics.
Further details need to be determined regarding the participants and topics for discussion. But, in the spirit of the TTC and the overall commitment to renew the transatlantic partnership, it is likely to become an active space for collaboration, particularly given recent U.S. legislative proposals such as Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act (S.1074), Platform Competition and Opportunity Act (H.R. 3826), and Ending Platform Monopolies Act (H.R. 3825).
Dialogue on Security and Defense
Technology issues are also likely to feature as part of the new U.S.-EU Dialogue on Security and Defense, on the model of similar formats with Norway, Canada, Japan, and Korea. The initiative aims to provide a framework for enhanced consultations, which will bring together the respective institutions responsible for foreign affairs, defense, and national security on both sides of the Atlantic. Its broad scope builds on recent U.S.-EU defense cooperation initiatives, such as the U.S. participation in PESCO project on military mobility. The two sides also committed to work towards an “Administrative Arrangement” for the U.S. with the European Defence Agency to facilitate further collaboration on defense.
In addition to the U.S.-EU format, technology is also prominent on NATO’s agenda, which launched a civil-military Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic as well as a NATO Innovation Fund to “support start-ups working on dual-use emerging and disruptive technologies.” Given that the EU’s proposed regulation on AI explicitly carved out from its scope AI systems “developed or used exclusively for military purposes,” this could be an active area for defense and technology firms.
Finally, technology concerns will intersect with other transatlantic dialogues launched on Russia, particularly on threats from criminal ransomware networks, as well as on China. Indeed, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260) recently passed by the Senate—$250 billion to spur American manufacturing and technology, including $52 billion for the U.S. semiconductor industry—is widely viewed as part of the “long-term strategic competition with China.”
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The team at Covington is well placed to advise you on these policy developments, and how to engage with the relevant decision-makers in these areas.