Last month, the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) held its inaugural ministerial in Pittsburgh: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with European Commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis. Only three months after the TTC process was launched at the US-EU summit, the two sides committed to significant steps in coordinating policy on issues such as investment screening, export controls, artificial intelligence (AI), semiconductors, and global trade challenges. The meeting also included stakeholder outreach with industry and labor groups, and was followed with further engagements with the private sector and civil society.

Leveraging Half of Global GDP

The TTC’s core logic is that the US and EU can jointly shape the global economic rules for the 21st century, given that the two sides continue to collectively represent nearly half of the world’s income. To be sure, a broader format such as the G-20 represents an even larger proportion of global GDP. But the G-20 also includes authoritarian states such as Russia and China, which do not share the same values and interests as Europe and America. Arguably, the TTC could benefit from the participation of other leading democracies, such as the United Kingdom or Japan, but there are no current plans to expand its membership.

The reinvigorated commitment towards a strong US-EU partnership also saw room for more topical issues to be included into the discussions. The EU seized the opportunity to highlight the importance of climate change for trade, which was welcomed by the US. Both sides agreed that trade policies could not substitute climate legislation, but that the two policy areas should reinforce each other.

Broad Agenda, Periodic Deliverables

Ten working groups span the TTC’s broad agenda: tech standards, climate and clean tech, secure supply chains, information and communication technology services security and competitiveness, data governance and tech platforms, tech misuse threatening security and human rights, export controls, investment screening, SME access to digital tools, and global trade. Although it may be difficult to develop a clear benchmark for success for these efforts—akin to jobs and growth yielded from a trade agreement—US and EU officials expect to be able to announce periodic deliverables, e.g., coordinated subsidies for semiconductors or complementary approaches to AI regulation. These gradual developments might not capture public headlines, but will be of crucial interest to affected firms and organizations.

For instance, the global shortage of semiconductors and their fragile supply chains was high on the TTC’s agenda. Both the EU and US have been adversely affected by semiconductor shortages, especially given that both rely primarily on Taiwan, which holds a near monopoly on production. The two sides have already begun to take legislative steps towards rebalancing their dependence with the European Chips Act and CHIPS for America Act. The Pittsburgh meeting, however, provided the opportunity for both to express their commitment toward coordinating measures to further enhance transparency in this area.

Furthermore, trade distorting and non-market practices provided the transatlantic partners with several common points of interest. There was general agreement to share information on certain sectors, especially new and emerging technologies. China’s presence and increasing dominance in these areas provided additional motivation for both sides to agree to come together to maintain their competitive advantage. It was agreed that a joint effort would be more likely to mitigate China’s efforts than two uncoordinated policies.

Moreover, the US particularly emphasized the importance of developing domestic measures to combat non-market practices. The EU’s investment screening tool was considered a step in the right direction, but there still exists a significant gap in capabilities between the two. Closer cooperation and coordination between the respective domestic policies was agreed to provide the best chances of countering distortive practices.

Cooperation on key future technologies is also set to continue to determine the TTC’s agenda, given China’s significant strides in fields such as AI. As one of the most significant issues during the meeting, the US and EU agreed to tie the joint cooperation on the development of AI to the maintenance and defense of their “shared values and fundamental freedoms.”

TTC’s Separate Track from US-EU Technology Competition Policy Dialogue

Alongside the TTC is another US-EU dialogue on technology competition policy. Whereas the former is about coordinating policies, the latter is about coordinating enforcement actions, e.g., between the Federal Trade Commission and DG Competition, or between the Justice Department and European counterparts. Although at the surface the two dialogues might appear to overlap, they are intentionally kept separate and involve different groups of individuals from the US and EU.

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The TTC’s next ministerial is planned for sometime next year, perhaps in the spring during the French presidency of the Council of the EU. Although the diplomatic fallout from the AUKUS deal continued to cast a shadow over the Pittsburgh meeting and precluded a more vigorous commitment from France, it would be arguably in President Macron’s interest to host the TTC in an old factory turned tech hub in the run-up to the French presidential elections. Furthermore, it may be in the EU’s interest to balance the ministerial participation with the inclusion of HRVP Josep Borrell as counterpart to the US Secretary of State and, more importantly, to leverage the TTC initiatives as part of a broader foreign policy agenda.

The team at Covington is well placed to advise you on these policy developments, and how to engage with the relevant decision-makers in these areas.

Photo of Holly Fechner Holly Fechner

Holly Fechner advises clients on complex public policy matters that combine legal and political opportunities and risks. She leads teams that represent companies, entities, and organizations in significant policy and regulatory matters before Congress and the Executive Branch.

She is a co-chair of…

Holly Fechner advises clients on complex public policy matters that combine legal and political opportunities and risks. She leads teams that represent companies, entities, and organizations in significant policy and regulatory matters before Congress and the Executive Branch.

She is a co-chair of the Covington’s Technology Industry Group and a member of the Covington Political Action Committee board of directors.

Holly works with clients to:

  • Develop compelling public policy strategies
  • Research law and draft legislation and policy
  • Draft testimony, comments, fact sheets, letters and other documents
  • Advocate before Congress and the Executive Branch
  • Form and manage coalitions
  • Develop communications strategies

She is the Executive Director of Invent Together and a visiting lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She serves on the board of directors of the American Constitution Society.

Holly served as Policy Director for Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Chief Labor and Pensions Counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.

She received The American Lawyer, “Dealmaker of the Year” award. in 2019. The Hill named her a “Top Lobbyist” from 2013 to the present, and she has been ranked by Chambers USA – America’s Leading Business Lawyers from 2012 to the present.

Photo of Marty Hansen Marty Hansen

Martin Hansen has represented some of the world’s leading information technology, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical companies on a broad range of cutting edge international trade, intellectual property, and competition issues. Martin has extensive experience in advising clients on matters arising under the World Trade…

Martin Hansen has represented some of the world’s leading information technology, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical companies on a broad range of cutting edge international trade, intellectual property, and competition issues. Martin has extensive experience in advising clients on matters arising under the World Trade Organization agreements, treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization, bilateral and regional free trade agreements, and other trade agreements.

Drawing on ten years of experience in Covington’s London and DC offices his practice focuses on helping innovative companies solve challenges on intellectual property and trade matters before U.S. courts, the U.S. government, and foreign governments and tribunals. Martin also represents software companies and a leading IT trade association on electronic commerce, Internet security, and online liability issues.

Photo of Lisa Peets Lisa Peets

Lisa Peets leads the Technology Regulatory and Policy practice in the London office and is a member of the firm’s Management Committee. Lisa divides her time between London and Brussels, and her practice embraces regulatory counsel and legislative advocacy. In this context, she…

Lisa Peets leads the Technology Regulatory and Policy practice in the London office and is a member of the firm’s Management Committee. Lisa divides her time between London and Brussels, and her practice embraces regulatory counsel and legislative advocacy. In this context, she has worked closely with leading multinationals in a number of sectors, including many of the world’s best-known technology companies.

Lisa counsels clients on a range of EU law issues, including data protection and related regimes, copyright, e-commerce and consumer protection, and the rapidly expanding universe of EU rules applicable to existing and emerging technologies. Lisa also routinely advises clients in and outside of the technology sector on trade related matters, including EU trade controls rules.

According to the latest edition of Chambers UK (2022), “Lisa is able to make an incredibly quick legal assessment whereby she perfectly distils the essential matters from the less relevant elements.” “Lisa has subject matter expertise but is also able to think like a generalist and prioritise. She brings a strategic lens to matters.”

Photo of Bart Szewczyk Bart Szewczyk

Having served in senior advisory positions in the U.S. government, Bart Szewczyk advises on European and global public policy, particularly on technology, trade and foreign investment, business and human rights, and environmental, social, and governance issues, as well as conducts international arbitration. He…

Having served in senior advisory positions in the U.S. government, Bart Szewczyk advises on European and global public policy, particularly on technology, trade and foreign investment, business and human rights, and environmental, social, and governance issues, as well as conducts international arbitration. He also teaches grand strategy as an Adjunct Professor at Sciences Po in Paris and is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

Bart recently worked as Advisor on Global Affairs at the European Commission’s think-tank, where he covered a wide range of foreign policy issues, including international order, defense, geoeconomics, transatlantic relations, Russia and Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa, and China and Asia. Previously, between 2014 and 2017, he served as Member of Secretary John Kerry’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, where he covered Europe, Eurasia, and global economic affairs. From 2016 to 2017, he also concurrently served as Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, where he worked on refugee policy. He joined the U.S. government from teaching at Columbia Law School, as one of two academics selected nationwide for the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship. He has also consulted for the World Bank and Rasmussen Global.

Prior to government, Bart was an Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School, where he worked on international law and U.S. foreign relations law. Before academia, he taught international law and international organizations at George Washington University Law School, and served as a visiting fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies. He also clerked at the International Court of Justice for Judges Peter Tomka and Christopher Greenwood and at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit for the late Judge Leonard Garth..

Bart holds a Ph.D. from Cambridge University where he studied as a Gates Scholar, a J.D. from Yale Law School, an M.P.A. from Princeton University, and a B.S. in economics (summa cum laude) from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published in Foreign AffairsForeign PolicyHarvard International Law JournalColumbia Journal of European LawAmerican Journal of International LawGeorge Washington Law ReviewSurvival, and elsewhere. He is the author of three books: Europe’s Grand Strategy: Navigating a New World Order (Palgrave Macmillan 2021); with David McKean, Partners of First Resort: America, Europe, and the Future of the West (Brookings Institution Press 2021); and European Sovereignty, Legitimacy, and Power (Routledge 2021).

Photo of Sebastian Vos Sebastian Vos

Sebastian Vos is co-chair of the firm’s public policy practice, and heads up its European division. He has extensive experience in the European Union and advises clients as they navigate and manage today’s global regulatory and policy challenges.

Sebastian provides clients with strategic…

Sebastian Vos is co-chair of the firm’s public policy practice, and heads up its European division. He has extensive experience in the European Union and advises clients as they navigate and manage today’s global regulatory and policy challenges.

Sebastian provides clients with strategic public policy, regulatory, and communications advice on a range of competition, trade, transactional and sectoral issues. Sebastian has particular expertise in advising companies in the technology, financial services, energy and transport sectors.

Sebastian was formerly a partner at a leading global public affairs consultancy. Prior to this, he was head of the competition practice at a strategic communications agency. He worked as an attorney at a magic circle firm, specialising in Antitrust, Competition and Trade law, as well as being a member of the Public Policy practice. He has also worked at the European Commission, and was part of its Delegation to the United States in 2000.

Sebastian has written articles on legal and political developments in various publications, including Europe’s World, Bloomberg Business Law Review and European Competition Law Review. He has also been a commentator on broadcast media including CNBC and Bloomberg TV.