Following the launch of the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council (TTC) on 15 June 2021, both jurisdictions have maintained intensive cooperation to deepen their level of partnership to coordinate approaches concerning global trade, technology and economic issues.
The latest summit took place on 30 and 31 May 2023, when top political figures from the European Commission and the U.S. Government gathered in Luleå, Sweden for the fourth EU-US TTC Ministerial meeting.
As a forum for dialogue, these ministerial meetings allow the EU and US to take stock of their continued work on strengthening transatlantic economic and trade relationships based on shared democratic values and respect for human rights and, most importantly, to showcase the gradual achievements of their partnership.
This Ministerial meeting in particular was co-chaired by the European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and joined by the European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton. Both parties reiterated their commitment to the TTC and stressed its necessity for tackling common challenges such as an effective and coordinated response to Russia's war in Ukraine, including combatting foreign information manipulation, disinformation campaigns and sanction-related export restrictions. They agreed that joint leadership is crucial for continuously promoting and upholding the rules-based international order and economic security founded on common values. The meetings between critical figures from the US Government and the European Commission culminated in a Joint Statement outlining discussions and developments under the transatlantic trade and technology cooperation framework.
Sanctions and trade restrictions
Because of the current geopolitical context and the war in Ukraine, the TTC continues to support the cooperation between the EU, the US, and other international partners on the economic measures taken against Russia and Belarus. This collaboration has allowed the partners to put in place dedicated restrictions to prevent exports of technology while being able to share information on trade restrictions, coordinate engagements with third countries, and conduct capacity-building actions. In a similar vein, the TTC's co-chairs issued a specific joint statement on their shared commitment to continue strategic cooperation to raise awareness and understanding about the threats posed by Foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI) and information operations. The statement outlines concrete actions undertaken until now, including (i) a common methodology for identifying, analysing and countering FIMI, (ii) an increased preparation against FIMI in third countries together with Civil Society Organisations and platforms, and (iii) a specific call for action to platforms building on the EU's Code of Practice on Disinformation.
The EU and US also share a narrative on the need for online platforms to exercise greater responsibility in the online environment, specifically focusing on children and youth as the essential addressees of this objective. In line with the Digital Services Act, for which the Commission is currently structuring a Delegated Act, the EU and the US expressed favourable views towards allowing independent research teams to investigate, analyse and report on online platforms' operations. Against this background, the EU and the US published a list of high-level principles on the protection and empowerment of children and youth in the digital environment, as well as on access to data from online platforms for researchers.
A particular emphasis was also given to advancing generative AI within the scope of the Joint Roadmap on Evaluation and Measurement Tools for Trustworthy AI and Risk Management, which has seen the launch of three dedicated expert groups that have issued a list of 65 key AI terms essential for understanding the risk-based approach to the transformative technology. In addition and following the signature by both parties of an administrative arrangement to support collaboration on advancing AI research in January 2023, the EU and the US intend to start implementation of this cooperation through the establishment of an internal catalogue and resources in five key areas including extreme weather, climate forecasting, and emergency response management.
Furthermore, the EU and the US are committed to advancing collaboration in the area of digital identity and have held several technical exchanges on the matter. With the next EU-US TTC Ministerial summit in mind, both partners committed to developing a transatlantic mapping of digital identity resources, initiatives, and use cases to advance transatlantic pre-standardisation research efforts, facilitate interoperability, and streamline implementation guidance while respecting human rights.
A common vision and an industry roadmap for research and development for 6G wireless communication systems are also envisaged, particularly since 6G is expected to start replacing 5G as the predominant commercial cellular wireless standard by 2030. In that context, the EU and the US outlined their conclusions from a transatlantic 6G workshop that took place on 20 April 2023, including guiding principles, the envisaged shared vision as well as the next steps (including a high-level international 6G meeting to be organised by the US later this year) to achieve the common goal. In addition and following an explicit acknowledgement of the strategic importance of international connectivity for security and trade, the EU and the US showed their willingness to advance cooperation to promote and ensure transatlantic subsea cables' connectivity and security connecting Europe, North America, and Asia (among others globally).
Both partners recognised the importance of trade policy as a driving tool for a net-zero economy transition on top of strengthening their cooperation, which is already ongoing under the framework of the TTC to boost the potential of the transatlantic marketplace. Therefore, regarding international supply chains, the EU and the US continue to hold in-depth exchanges on existing and upcoming regulations and rules, including supply chain due diligence developments in the EU (CSDDD proposal). In this sense, they stressed the success of the Due Diligence Roundtable held on 3 March 2023. In addition, through the Trade and Labour Dialogue (TALD), senior representatives from both parties discussed eradicating forced labour from global trade and supply chains and examined the impact of the green transition on workers. Both partners are committed to studying and further discussing joint recommendations on combatting forced labour in global supply chains.
The EU and US reaffirmed their efforts to continue bilateral coordination in these areas, including working with other partners such as G7, to diversify further and strengthen transatlantic supply chains as they play an essential role in achieving mutual objectives of tackling climate change as well as fostering solutions to the global challenges before us. To continue further delivering on goals and concrete objectives, the EU and US intend to meet again before the end of 2023 in the US.