A COMMAND CENTER to scan the digital realm for global disinformation campaigns. Standardized sockets for electric vehicles that will work in both the United States and the European Union (EU) and thus reduce the cost of building the infrastructure needed for decarbonisation. A transatlantic team that seeks attempts by China and others to manipulate global technical standards to their advantage. Such initiatives sound like common sense, but they are difficult in a world where even allies have competing regulators fighting for technological dominance. Fortunately, the transatlantic diplomatic venture that most people have never heard of is trying to change all that.
The group in question is called the Trade and Technology Council (TTC), will meet in Saclé, a suburb of Paris, on 15 and 16 May. A constellation of huge officials from both sides of the Atlantic, including the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce and the chief negotiator for trade negotiations, as well as EURussia’s commissioners for trade and competition will meet for the second time. While their first meeting in September in Pittsburgh was scheduled mainly to get participants acquainted with each other, a meeting in France will assess progress in their work and set goals for the next two years.
This is an important task. The TTC is the West’s response to the efforts of China and others (especially Russia after its invasion of Ukraine) to build an autocratic digital world and bring under control the physical supply chains that underlie it. “The big question is whether democratic governments can develop significant alternatives,” said Mariette Schaake of Stanford University’s Center for Cyberpolice. If America and EU After settling their differences over technology, other countries should follow suit: the pair accounts for 55% of the global information technology market, which is expected to cost a staggering $ 4.4 trillion this year, according to consulting firm Gartner.
The TTC was established last year as a “transatlantic interagency agency,” according to Paul Triol of Albright Stonebridge Group, a foreign policy consulting firm. It is supposed to be the main platform on which America and EU coordinate policies for the digital sphere. Both sides have set up ten working groups, ranging from “technology standards” and “secure supply chains” to “investment reviews” and “climate and clean technologies”.
The structure of Art TTC allows relevant agencies and experts in Brussels and Washington to develop working relationships that go beyond special meetings that have long dominated transatlantic policy. This is a practical forum where they can resolve their digital differences. Once upon a time, officials hardly knew who was responsible for a topic on the other side of the Atlantic. Now they can just switch to a video call. “In TTC became a channel for the most part USA–EU cooperation, ”explains the chairman of one of the working groups of the council.
The TTC has already helped advance negotiations in several areas, especially with regard to the new version of the Privacy Shield, an agreement to create a clear legal basis for personal data flows across the Atlantic. The original was rejected by the European Court in 2020. He ruled that the agreement did not sufficiently restrict US law enforcement access to the personal data of European citizens.
Although negotiations on the reform of the “Privacy Shield” are not officially underway TTC‘s agenda, they involve many of the same officials. Their acquaintance with each other was one of the reasons why President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen were able to announce in March that both sides had finally agreed on an agreement “in principle”. This will be the basis for more progress in TTC. If America and EU Had it not even been possible to agree on data flows, another official says, other attempts at transatlantic cooperation in technology policy would have been futile.
Another project that benefited from TTC it is the “Declaration of the Future of the Internet”, which was proclaimed on April 28 and signed by more than 60 countries. Complementing TTC, this document sets out priorities for an “open, free, global, compatible, reliable and secure” Internet – in fact describing an alternative to the Chinese and Russian increasingly autocratic technospheres. However, it is not aimed mainly at these two forces, which necessarily ignore it. Instead, it serves as a warning to other countries that are tempted to copy some of the couple’s authoritarian ways.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine both stimulated the council’s efforts and proved their usefulness. Officials had to, among other things, decide which technology exports to block, how to strengthen cybersecurity protection and what to do with Russian disinformation companies on the Internet. “It gave us something to work on,” says another TTC participant.
Not surprisingly, in the light of the war, the brightest proposals in the draft “joint statement”, which will be published at the end of the meeting in Sakla, concern security. Both sides want to share more information and harmonize rules, a move that could one day lead to a common list of sensitive technologies that should not be in the hands of autocratic regimes. With regard to supply chains, the idea is to develop, among other things, an early warning system to avoid such bottlenecks that have led to the current shortage of microchips. Both sides also swear to refrain from further “subsidy races”, an obvious danger in the semiconductor industry.
But in most areas, the council’s woolly commitments hint at the complexity of the task at hand. У ІІ, on EU and America seek to “develop a common center / repository of indicators and methodologies for measuring ІІ reliability and risks of AI ”. In climate and clean technologies, both “work on a common collaboration methodology EU-US recommendations for individual carbonaceous products ”. In technology investment, the couple is thinking about conducting “table exercises” to find out how the other party reacts when a Russian or Chinese firm knocks to acquire a local company. In other words, officials are still trying to find common ground.
If specific “products” are few, then it’s because America and EU still living on different digital planets when it comes to regulating large online platforms such as Facebook and Google. The EU completes a number of broad laws, including the Digital Markets Act, designed to increase competition, and the Digital Services Act to control harmful content. No equivalent bills are likely to get into Congress. Optimists note that ordinary Americans, if not their elected representatives, seem open to the idea of such rules: they trust technology companies even less than Europeans (see chart).
This is partly a function of the political stalemate in America, but partly also of economic nationalism, as a much larger number of firms subject to regulation are American than European. The EU guilty of such protectionism: American negotiators want TTC to accelerate the deployment of two new ways to build mobile networks called Open RAS (short for Open Radio Access Network) and “virtualization”. This should facilitate the emergence of new suppliers of telecommunications equipment, which will give more competition to Huawei, a Chinese information technology giant accused of working closely with the ghosts in Beijing. But openly RAS and virtualization is also weakening two major European firms, Ericsson and Nokia, which are doing the same business as Huawei. And they create opportunities for major U.S. cloud providers, particularly Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, to engage in telecommunications.
It is likely that more such quarrels will arise after that TTC more narrowly focused on its original goal: to challenge China. “It’s one thing to negotiate export controls for Russia, where the economic impact is pretty small, but for a giant like China, it’s getting a lot harder to do,” said Martian Russer of the Center for New American Security, an expert. tank. China is central to most technology supply chains. Many firms both from America and from EU have a big investment there.
Another problem is that neither side can really be trusted to keep its promises. If Donald Trump is re-elected in 2024 or another president similar to Trump enters the White House, TTC can soon be forgotten. As for EU, The European Court may also cancel the new version of the “Privacy Shield”. Similar lawsuits are possible in America. “It’s a legal Rubik’s cube,” said Peter Swire of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who helped draft a new agreement that has not yet been published.
Counting your chips
The TTCProponents argue that the logical answer is to make the council more ambitious while it still can. They welcome his bolder goals, such as creating common rules for ІІ and expanding transatlantic cybersecurity cooperation. Another way to strengthen the group would be to invite other like-minded countries, such as Japan and South Korea, or even large companies and other organizations, to join its discussions. (Large technology firms and other organizations will participate in the pau-wow in Sakla on an informal basis.)
Some would even like to TTC turn into a “technological alliance” of democracies, digital NATO called for this when Mr Biden was elected in late 2020. Recent developments suggest that a network of bilateral events will be more likely to result. In April EU agreed on such a deal with India and began a similar process with Japan. Technology is also discussed in Quad, a security dialogue between America, Australia, India and Japan. “Just as regulation tends to reflect the industries it regulates, the international system is beginning to reflect the industries they are trying to address,” said Tyson Barker of the German Council on Foreign Relations, another think tank. “Expect an Alliance Ecosystem.” ■
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