Despite French anger, the EU-USA are striving for common technology rules


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High-level talks begin in the US city of Pittsburgh on Wednesday, despite efforts by Paris to postpone the meeting in retaliation
Despite efforts by Paris to postpone the meeting in retaliation for a US-Australia-UK pact, high-level talks will begin in the US city of Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The EU and US will make a delicate attempt this week to deepen ties with technology regulation, but France is opposed to the project after a dispute with Washington over a submarine deal.

High-level talks will begin in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh on Wednesday, despite efforts by Paris to postpone the meeting in retaliation for a pact between the U.S., Australia and Britain – called AUKUS – on Canberra’s multi-billion dollar submarine contract scrapped from France.

The EU-US trade and technology council was set up after a summit in June to consider issues including trying to coordinate their strategies to regulate internet giants and defend democratic values.

The council came at the request of Europeans, who are looking for concrete signs of increased transatlantic cooperation after years of tension under ex-President Donald Trump, particularly in the trade area.

President Joe Biden’s administration is represented by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

On the European side, the vice-presidents of the EU, Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis, will hold the talks.

Vestager, the EU technology policy chief, said the talks would seek to improve cooperation “in areas where there is a common sense of the values ​​of two great, old democracies”.

The rise of China was unspoken in their comments, with Washington urging its EU partners to join forces to isolate Beijing on the global stage.

On the other hand, there is resistance in Europe, where the powerful member states France and Germany do not blindly follow Washington’s increasing assertiveness.

“European officials want to avoid the TTC simply becoming an unproductive exercise when bashing China,” said former EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom and analyst Chad Bown in a paper for the Peterson Institute in Washington.

The talks in Pittsburgh, a city in the rust belt that has turned into a technology hub, are just the first tranche of the Trade and Tech Council, with another round expected in the spring, Vestager said.

EU diplomats said France harshly criticized the talks at a meeting on Friday, reminding member states that previous attempts to deepen trade ties with Washington have come nowhere.

“No place in a democracy”

Dombrovskis, who is also the EU trade commissioner, warned that the new efforts are not an attempt to reach a trade deal.

The European Commission, which regulates trade policy for the EU’s 27 member states, has also failed to secure a smaller deal with Donald Trump that goes beyond a zero tariff pact for lobsters.

“It’s not like a free trade agreement,” the former Latvian prime minister told reporters. “It’s more about long-term benefits.”

Dombrovskis pointed to possible cooperation in banning unwanted foreign investment or addressing supply chain problems such as microchips.

The discussions will be divided into 10 working groups on a variety of topics, with Vestager looking for common approaches to contain Big Brother – such as preventing excesses in artificial intelligence.

“We don’t think that these practices should have a home in a democracy,” she said. “I have a strong feeling that this is something that is really shared with Americans.”

Talks will take place as both sides argue over the steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump has imposed, which Biden has yet to remove.

Regarding the tariffs, Dombrovskis said: “We are working very seriously with the US and are also aware of the schedules that this problem should be resolved by December 1st.”

The US and the EU are striving for harmony in regulating big tech

© 2021 AFP

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