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EU reportedly seeks to side with US on tech against China, revive parts of TTIP

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The Nation | 30 November 2020

EU reportedly seeks to side with US on tech against China, revive parts of TTIP

(Sputnik) - A cooperation plan between Brussels and Washington reportedly includes attempts to revive parts of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that focus on regulatory cooperation regarding new technologies.

The European Union on Monday aspired to establish a tech alliance with the projected US president-elect, Joe Biden, with a goal to prevent China from economic dominance in the sector, Politico reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

In what is described in the report as "early initiative ahead of Biden’s inauguration", senior EU official Sabine Weyand, during a closed-door meeting, allegedly teased that the European Commission would propose a "Transatlantic Trade and Technology Council" to set joint standards on new technologies.

According to Politico, a Commission paper to EU countries that staged Europe’s transatlantic anti-China strategy also touched upon the plans.

"The EU is proposing to establish a new EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC)," the paper is reported to read. "The aim will be to [...] strengthen our technological and industrial leadership and expand bilateral trade and investment. It will focus on reducing trade barriers, developing compatible standards and regulatory approaches for new technologies [...] As part of this, there should be [...] closer cooperation on [...] investment screening, Intellectual Property rights, forced transfers of technology and export controls".

The plans to compete against Beijing come amid reported mutual fears in Brussels and Washington that Beijing is attempting to establish global leadership in emerging technologies.

Under the potential anti-Beijing alliance, the EU would also reportedly seek to bring back to life parts of the failed TTIP agreement.

Proposed in 2014, TTIP talks were frozen after negotiations with US President Donald Trump were declared "obsolete and no longer relevant" by the European Commission in 2019.

Particularly, the EU could reportedly resuscitate parts of the TTIP negotiations regarding the regulation of such fields of emerging technology as artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.

According to the report, one top Commission official described the tech alliance as "low-hanging fruit", referring to plans between Brussels and Washington to create a joint committee that would coordinate regulations of future tech.

"It’s very hard to align rules on products that already exist, but it is fairly easy to do it on emerging technologies," the official said, cited by Politico.

The report outlined that TTIP negotiations are not expected to be resumed due to "public opposition to the deal" and stumbling blocks including EU protections for agriculture and US public procurement discrimination through the Buy America Act - one Biden has said he is likely to enhance.

Apart from tech regulations, Brussels reportedly seeks to work with Washington on industrial subsidies, investment screening and possibly reforming the the World Trade Organisation, an official told Politico.

Reported steps toward a new transatlantic agreement between European Union and America regarding tech come after TTIP negotiations were halted by Trump in 2018, as Brussels and Washington balanced on the verge of a trade war. A year later, TTIP negotiations were proclaimed "obsolete and no longer relevant" by the European Commission.

Today’s potential reported alliance, however, moves to set a confrontation with Beijing as a goal, as China ramps up global efforts in new technology, particularly in 5G; moves that are not met with enthusiasm among the West. In particular, the Trump administration has repeatedly insisted that Chinese tech giant Huawei is a threat to national security and must not be allowed to development 5G networks in the US or Europe. Huawei, in its turn, dismissed the accusations.

 source: The Nation