WASHINGTON—Following today’s announcement about the launch of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council tasked with writing “the rules of the road for the economy of the 21st century,” the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, released the following statement from ITIF President Robert D. Atkinson:
The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council is a useful vehicle for a pragmatic and cooperative agenda, as Europe and the United States share more in common than they often admit—even amidst constant clashes over tech policy. However, it’s critical that the United States does not seek cooperation for cooperation’s sake.
The Biden administration wants stronger transatlantic relations, but it shouldn’t capitulate to EU demands and stop challenging unfair, anti-innovation, and anti-American policies, such as the proposed EU Digital Markets Act and the digital tax regime. As such, the stated goal to “write the rules of the road for the 21st century economy” and to seek regulatory harmonization will likely backfire, leading to the adoption of EU-style anti-innovation policies in America. There is no need for regulatory harmonization—only for clearly defined national rules that do not violate the spirit or the letter of the World Trade Organization rules.
One area of real promise and the first order of business should be negotiating a replacement for the Privacy Shield so that personal data can flow freely and be protected across the Atlantic. If the two sides aren’t able to address this foundational part of the transatlantic digital relationship, then there really isn’t much hope for the broader agenda, as it shows that Europe doesn’t trust the United States.
Whether the United States and Europe can work together via the Council holds much broader implications. If the EU and the United States cannot cooperate and resolve key differences, the disagreements will strengthen China. But if cooperation comes at the expense of key U.S. interests, this will also help China. Today’s announcement is hopefully a first step in charting a new course on U.S. digital policy leadership and renewed transatlantic commitment to digital free trade.