Expect deals on “trustworthy” artificial intelligence and electric vehicle charging standards. Expect little progress over “protectionist” US electric vehicle subsidies, Europe’s regulatory crackdown on US tech, or in meeting the challenge of authoritarian China. CEPA’s Digital Innovation Initiative assembled opinions from several tech policy experts about their expectations for the TTC. Here’s what they had to say.
Fiona Alexander, non-resident Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis; Distinguished Policy Strategist in Residence, School of International Service and Distinguished Fellow, Internet Governance Lab, American University
The TTC will continue to produce deliverables around the edges as the EU and US generally want to reach the same destination with their tech policies—that is, a digital future whose rules of the roads are democratic. Guided by a different hierarchy of values and fundamental rights, they are stubbornly committed to taking different routes to get there. For Europe, it is privacy driving the agenda, for the US it is free expression/First Amendment.
Emily Benson, Senior Fellow, Scholl Chair in International Business, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
The TTC was designed to avoid litigating old trade disputes and instead to chart new territory and standards for our 21st-century economy. While the parties have conferred on issues ranging from export controls to artificial intelligence, the main topic—which the U.S. has sought to avoid—is implementing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the EV tax credit. My hope for the third ministerial is that the parties can avoid the temptation to discuss only this topic and that they will produce concrete outcomes and forward momentum on other areas ripe for cooperation, namely the digital economy.
Lindsay Gorman, Senior Fellow, Emerging Technologies at the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy
Coming off US-candidate Doreen Bodgan-Martin’s triumph in this summer’s election to helm the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the TTC should provide a roadmap for US-EU collaboration on an agenda for technology standards both at the ITU and more traditional technical organizations. Finally, given the TTC’s recent emphasis on involving non-governmental stakeholders—which both sides agree are critical to advancing a democratic technology agenda—expect to see this week’s meeting emphasize those collaborations.
Dan Hamilton, Senior Fellow, SAIS Foreign Policy Institute; non-resident Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
The TTC process is producing incremental US/EU successes in areas like export controls, investment screening, and supply chain vulnerabilities. They are advancing secure and resilient digital connectivity initiatives with third countries like Kenya and Jamaica and aligning on ways to develop trustworthy AI. However, low-profile progress in areas like these could be swamped by joint failure to resolve high-profile bilateral irritants, such as European frustrations with discriminatory provisions in the US Inflation Reduction Act, and US concerns over some EU digital regulations. The TTC process does not include these issues, but its future will be judged by the US/EU ability to address them. These squabbles only weaken transatlantic potential as both parties face Putin’s continued atrocities in Europe and China’s geopolitical challenges.
Chris Meserole, Director of Research, AI and Emerging Technology Initiative; Fellow, Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution
Earlier this fall, the Biden administration made constraining China’s development of AI and advanced technology a lynchpin of its national security strategy. Yet the United States can’t achieve that aim on its own—and its partners in the EU have yet to come along for the ride. The upcoming TTC meetings will serve as a litmus test for how much strategic alignment there really is on tech policy.
Kenneth Propp, non-resident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; Adjunct Professor, European Union Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Senior Fellow, Cross-Border Data Forum
Two years after the Biden administration and the European Commission resolved to put an end to the rancorous trade disputes of the Trump era, Washington and Brussels are again wrangling, this time over US electric vehicles subsidies and European Union (EU) initiatives to rein in US big tech companies. The December 5 gathering in the Washington area of US cabinet officials and European commissioners—the third semi-annual meeting of the TTC—should be a perfect opportunity for high-level grappling with these disputes. However, neither is on the agenda, causing European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton to decide the trip wasn’t worth his time. The reasons for that illustrate the limits of this new kind of transatlantic trade diplomacy.
Mark Scott, Chief Technology Correspondent, POLITICO
Are we really in a transatlantic reset in the post-Donald Trump era? And how permanent are such rekindled ties between both sides of the Atlantic? Deep down, there’s still a massive amount of mistrust — born out of a lack of engagement, “frenemy-style” economic interests and unease over where each counterpart is coming from. Case in point: Europe’s much-misunderstood “digital sovereignty.” Many in Washington view this as blatant protectionism, as some in Europe would like to use this concept to tilt the scales in favor of local companies against American rivals. But it’s not that simple. Others within the bloc view it as a means to level the playing field so that everyone (including non-EU firms) can benefit from a bloc with more than 500 million well-heeled consumers.
Matthew Eitel, Bill Echikson, and Alexander Wirth run CEPA’s Digital Innovation Initiative.
Bandwidth is CEPA’s online journal dedicated to advancing transatlantic cooperation on tech policy. All opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or views of the institutions they represent or the Center for European Policy Analysis.