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Strengthening the transatlantic digital space

This week, European and US leaders will convene the first meetings of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) with the goal of renewing a transatlantic dialogue on critical global challenges and strengthening technological cooperation. As I recently wrote, we strongly support the goals of the Council and believe closer cooperation on digital, trade and economic policy will help achieve shared goals – overcoming the pandemic, achieving an equitable economic recovery, promoting the responsible use of technology, and advancing democratic norms.

The TTC has a wide-ranging agenda, with ten working groups covering a broad array of topics. While it is encouraging that both sides have agreed that all issues should be on the table, the long-term success of the forum will depend on the parties focusing and making progress on the most critical ones. To that end, here are a few that we think merit serious attention:

  • Transatlantic regulatory principles: The digital economy and the millions of jobs it supports on both sides of the Atlantic require meaningful consultation between EU and US decision makers based on shared regulatory principles. While policymakers on both sides are rightly debating new rules around technology in areas like AI, it is essential that these and other new policies governing digital markets and services are interoperable and focused on helping and protecting consumers – adhering to principles of consistent treatment, robust due process protections, and safeguards for user privacy and intellectual property.
  • Secure transatlantic cyberspace: Internet infrastructure on both sides of the Atlantic and globally is increasingly under threat as cyberattacks continue to exploit vulnerabilities targeting people, organizations, and governments. Greater coordination between European and US cybersecurity work, including building shared standards, is critical to enhanced effectiveness. We’re committed to supporting this initiative, including by partnering with government, industry and academia, and we recently pledged to invest $10 billion over the next five years to strengthen cybersecurity around the world.
  • Legal certainty on data flows: In the digital world, where every email and video conference involves the transfer of data, businesses on both sides of the Atlantic need legal certainty that such data flows can continue, subject to agreed protection of consumer privacy. The EU and US urgently need a reliable, long-term agreement on transatlantic data flows. Resolving this issue with a new Privacy Shield will enable Europe and the US to drive trust with allies and globally.  
  • Responsible use of technology: Artificial intelligence and emerging technologies are increasingly critical to the transatlantic economy and to tackling common challenges like climate change. During the pandemic, AI has been used to boost knowledge sharing, enable better prediction of health trends, and support research to develop vaccines and treatments for serious disease. But these same technologies also present new challenges and risks, as well as potential regulatory conflicts. Under the TTC, the EU and US have an opportunity to establish a common approach to AI policy and research that enables responsible AI innovation and adoption around the world. The business community has an important role to play here, which is why we created a set of AI principles that govern our responsible development of this technology and are sharing our progress in implementation.
  • Trade and technology for everyone: All too often, small businesses and workers have been an afterthought when it comes to the international trading system and the technology agenda. A smart approach to trade policy and innovation can bring them back in – and create new opportunities for workers and small businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. The EU and the US should identify access barriers, find new ways to ensure that workers get digital skills, and put digital tools and exporting technologies in the hands of small businesses. At Google, we have launched an updated version of our Market Finder tool, which enables small businesses to sell their goods and services to international markets. And we’re partnering with a range of actors – whether through the European Commission’s Pact for Skills or directly with community colleges, non-profits, and workforce boards – to make our job training programs more accessible. So far, these programs have helped over 100,000 people on each side of the Atlantic to secure new jobs.
  • An open internet that respects international human rights: We continue to believe that an open internet – one that respects human rights – benefits everyone. But the open internet is increasingly under threat. According to Freedom House, governments suspended internet access in over 20 countries in 2021 and dozens of countries pursued content rules that would impact freedom of expression. We need democracies – led by Europe and the US – to continue to stand up for internet freedom and human rights in the online space. We are committed to working with governments, multilateral and multi-stakeholder organizations, and other technology companies to advance those values.  

The historic partnership between Europe and the US faces some profound challenges, but, as in the past, we have always found opportunities to build and strengthen our partnership based on shared values and common principles. The launch of the TTC is proof that our shared values are stronger than any individual difference of opinion. We applaud this initiative and stand ready to contribute to its success.  

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