The EU and the United States will embark on a delicate effort this week to deepen their ties on technology regulation, but France will resist the project following a row with Washington over a deal on sub -marines.
High-level talks will begin in the US city of Pittsburgh on Wednesday despite efforts by Paris to delay the meeting in retaliation for a pact between the US, Australia and Britain – dubbed AUKUS – that saw Canberra suppress a billion dollars. order of submarines from France.
The EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council was set up after a summit in June to discuss issues, including trying to harmonize their strategies on regulating internet giants and defending securities. democratic.
The advice came at the behest of Europeans, who are looking for concrete signs of increased transatlantic cooperation after years of tension under former President Donald Trump, especially on trade.
President Joe Biden‘s administration will be represented by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Trade Secretary Gina Raimondo.
On the European side, EU executive vice-presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis will lead the discussions.
Vestager, the EU’s technology policy leader, said the talks would seek to strengthen cooperation “in areas where there is a common sense of values being two great and old democracies”.
China’s rise was not pronounced in its comments, with Washington urging its EU partners to join forces to isolate Beijing on the world stage.
This is meeting resistance in Europe, where powerful member states France and Germany are reluctant to blindly follow Washington’s growing assertion.
“EU officials want to prevent the TTC from simply becoming an unproductive exercise in denigrating China,” former EU trade boss Cecilia Malmstrom and analyst Chad Bown said in an article for the Peterson Institute in Washington.
The talks in Pittsburgh, a Rust Belt city that has become a tech hub, are just the first installment of the Business and Technology Council, with another round slated for spring, Vestager said.
EU diplomats said France sharply criticized the talks at a meeting on Friday, reminding member states that previous attempts to deepen trade ties with Washington had come to naught.
Dombrovskis, who is also EU trade commissioner, warned that the new effort was not an attempt to strike a trade deal, with still fresh memories of the failed attempt to strike an ambitious deal during the Obama administration.
The European Commission, which manages the trade policy of the 27 EU member states, has also failed to finalize a smaller-scale deal with Donald Trump beyond a zero-tariff pact on lobsters.
“It’s not like a free trade agreement,” the former Latvian prime minister told reporters. “It’s more about long term benefits.”
Dombrovskis highlighted potential cooperation to ban unwanted foreign investment or tackle supply chain issues, such as with microchips.
Discussions will be divided into 10 working groups on a wide range of issues, with Vestager seeking to find common ground on how to curb Big Brother, for example to prevent artificial intelligence excesses.
“We do not find that these practices should have their place in a democracy,” she said. “I have a strong feeling this is something that is really shared with Americans.”
The talks will take place as the two sides remain at odds over the steel and aluminum tariffs that have been imposed by Trump, but which Biden has yet to remove.
On tariffs, Dombrovskis said: “We are engaging very seriously with the United States and we are also aware (of) delays, that by December 1 this issue should be resolved.”