Tensions with authoritarian Russia and China are drawing together Americans and Europeans. In Sweden, both sides want to find ways to work with each other on sanctions and export controls.
And yet, the US and EU are moving into election season and their politicians are embracing subsidies for their domestic tech industries. Both are subsiding electric cars and semiconductors. US President Joseph Biden, up for reelection, faces pressure to make sure taxpayer money goes only for US production, while European politicians, preparing for parliamentary elections and a new European Commission, aim to achieve “digital sovereignty.”
Don’t expect a major breakthrough. An early draft of the summit’s joint conclusions avoids mention of a settlement on subsidies while reflecting a strong will to avoid a dustup on difficult issues.
The front-page issue concerns climate change subsidies. The US Inflation Reduction Act alarms Europeans, who fear that European carmakers face discrimination against their American counterparts. Brussels has responded with its own subsidy package.
Despite intensive negotiations, no solution looks set to be unveiled. The US wants assurances that European-made batteries contain only European minerals, not Chinese ones.
Ironically, both sides agree on the need to increase non-Chinese production of critical minerals. For the EU, this represents a political priority. The US agrees. Yet the communique foresees no specific transatlantic agreement on the subject, either.
In Sweden, an agreement looks only ready to be signed on uncontroversial matters such as a common standard for electric vehicles’ plugs and an early warning mechanism for supply chains in vital green sectors. Plans will be announced to publish a joint catalogue on best practices on green public procurement and on mutual recognition of conformity procedures for green products.
At the last summit in December, Washington and Brussels committed to a joint AI roadmap. The document mentions that three expert groups have been launched since then to align on a common terminology, risk management methodology, and monitoring emerging risks.
ChatGPT has ignited a debate on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean about the possibilities — and dangers — of AI. Europe is moving ahead with an AI Act, and EU policymakers are adding tough new “high-risk” categories into their proposed legislation. Although the US is far behind in the legislative process — Congress remains divided over this and other tech issues — the Biden Administration shares many of the European concerns.
After suffering a global chip shortage during the pandemic crisis, both Europe and the US have enacted Chips Acts, pouring billions of dollars and euros to increase their domestic production. In Sweden, the two vow to set up a joint early warning mechanism to identify potential disruption in semiconductor supply chains and commit to preventing a subsidy race.
At the last Trade and Technology Council meeting, the EU and US established a task force on quantum computing, another critical technology in the international tech race against China. In Sweden, the task force will report that it has nailed down conditions for European and American researchers to join R&D programs and agreed to forge common Intellectual Property rules, define benchmarks, and align on standards.
Export Controls and Investment Screening
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Tech and Trace Council has coordinated economic sanctions against Russia and its ally Belarus and worked to prevent Moscow from accessing technologies needed to sustain its war efforts.
Washington now wants to expand this collaboration to target China. Last October, the Biden Administration introduced new export bans on advanced semiconductors in an effort to cripple China’s growing technological capacity.
In Sweden, the EU and US will note that they “have consulted each other in advance of the introduction of new export controls on sensitive items and new controls, namely on semiconductors.”
Although the EU initially saw US export bans as unwelcome unilateral moves, the two now seem aligned. The Netherlands, home to the world’s leading semiconductor imaging company ASML, has fallen in line with the American export ban. In Sweden, the US and EU will agree to lobby third countries, starting with the Western Balkans, against becoming dependent on China for key infrastructure.
China leads on next-generation 6G patents. In response, the US and EU vow to develop a common vision and align research efforts. At the previous summit, digital infrastructure projects were announced in Jamaica and Kenya. Projects in two new, still unnamed, countries will be announced in Sweden.
The debate over how to strip out Chinese material in current European telephone networks remains unresolved. Washington wants the EU to adopt a new, non-Chinese technology called Open Ran. Europe worries that Open Ran is not ready for prime time and about the cost of rip and replace.
Although US tech companies have expressed dismay that European regulators discriminate against them, the Biden Administration shares the European view that the companies need to take additional responsibility for the content they host.
In Sweden, both sides are set to call for online platforms to protect minors and ensure data access to independent researchers. The Digital Services Act, the EU’s brand-new content moderation rulebook, is cited as reflecting a transatlantic shared vision of a safe online environment.
Luca Bertuzzi is EURACTIV’s Technology Editor.
This article was originally published by EURACTIV. EURACTIV is an independent pan-European media network specializing in EU affairs including government, business, and civil society.
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.