The meeting between EU and US officials under the auspices of the Trade and Technology Council, (TTC), earlier this week resulted in several outcomes, including prioritisation of the green transition, the extension and expansion of mutual recognition agreements, and the launch of a roadmap for AI.
On 5 December, representatives of the EU and US met for the third TTC meeting. The TTC is a forum where the EU and US co-ordinate strategies on global trade, economic and technical issues, and work to deepen transatlantic trade. The TTC includes 10 working groups, with ministerial meetings held every six months.
At the meeting, held outside Washington DC, the EU was represented by Commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis. The meeting resulted in outcomes in various areas, which are presented below. The fourth ministerial meeting of the TTC will hopefully take place in Sweden in the spring.
“Swedish Enterprise welcomes the results achieved at the meeting. Positive and constructive co-operation between the EU and the US is vital for Swedish businesses. That said, we’re hoping for more concrete results and measures from the TTC ahead of the fourth ministerial meeting which will hopefully take place in Sweden in the spring,” says Ingrid Serup, Trade Policy Advisor at Swedish Enterprise.
Transatlantic Initiative for Sustainable Trade
An initiative on sustainable transatlantic trade will permeate the work of the entire TTC and aims to support the green transition by identifying measures in key areas of trade and environmental sustainability. For example, the EU and US plan to investigate ways to facilitate trade in goods and services that are essential for the transition to greener and circular economies.
The task force set up on the Inflation Reduction Act was also discussed at the meeting. The EU reiterated concerns relating to the distortive subsidies and the discriminatory requirements.
Building resilient semiconductor supply chains
The EU and US signed two agreements on semiconductors. One is an early warning mechanism to manage and mitigate disruption to semiconductor supply chains; the other is a commitment to mutual transparency on subsidies to the semiconductor industry to avoid a subsidy race.
Mutual Recognition Agreements extended
The EU and US agreed to extend the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on marine equipment, and to extend the MRA on medicines (vaccines). In addition, the parties supported work on simplifying conformity assessments, and proposed starting discussions on the machinery sector.
Co-operation on export controls and investment screening
The EU and US agreed to extend co-operation on export controls, particularly in the area of information exchange. Discussions continue regarding investment screening, with a focus on security risks posed by certain investments in sensitive technologies. The parties also agreed to explore policy tools that could be used to address non-market economies and explore opportunities for joint work to address coercion.
The US and EU issued their first joint roadmap for evaluation and measurement tools for trustworthy AI and risk management, the AI Roadmap. The roadmap will support collaborative strategies in international standardisation bodies related to AI.
“Considerable short- and long-term benefits would be gained from the EU and the US working together on designing common standards for AI. The fact that the EU is working on legislation in this area limits opportunities to move forward together to some extent, but there are great benefits if AI standards can be developed together as much as possible with allies such as the US. This benefits trade and research,” says Carolina Brånby, Digital Policy Expert, Swedish Enterprise.
Collaboration on quantum technology
The EU and US plan to establish an expert group to reduce barriers to research and development co-operation on quantum information science and technology.
Electric vehicle charging
At the TTC meeting in May 2022, a decision was taken to collaborate on Megawatt Charging System (MCS) standards for heavy-duty vehicles. The parties will continue to work towards a common international standard to be adopted by 2024 to ensure interoperability and safety.
In parallel to this, in 2023, the EU and the US intend to draw up joint recommendations for state-funded implementation of infrastructure for charging electric cars.
Other standards and research collaboration
The EU and US also agreed to step up co-operation on standards for additive manufacturing, plastics recycling, and digital identity, with plans to launch new initiatives in the areas of post-quantum encryption and the Internet of Things.
Increase the use of digital tools in commerce
Ahead of the next TTC meeting, the EU and US plan to compile and exchange information on initiatives on the use of digital tools to simplify and reduce the cost of trade. Digital tools can make it easier for businesses, especially SMEs, to trade across borders.
Talent for Growth Task Force
The EU and US intend to launch a working group on talent, including a focus on improving digital skills. The working group will bring together government and private leaders from business, the labour market and education providers for information sharing and collaboration.
Digital infrastructure and connectivity – initiatives with Jamaica and Kenya
Through the TTC, the EU and the US want to increase their support for reliable and resilient digital connectivity in partner countries. As an initial step, more than a thousand schools and orphanages in Jamaica will be connected and a similar project will be launched in Kenya, in partnership with the government, to build fibre optic connections to schools in remote areas.