EU-US convergence vs competition on the EU's Digital Strategy

I thought it would be useful to share with European friends and colleagues that there is a lively policy debate underway in Washington DC on what is the right balance to strike between cooperating with and competing with the Eurpean Union with regard to Europe's push for "digital sovereignty" or "digital autonomy."  The debate was well summed up in a think-tank event held virtually on June 25 by the Atlantic Council, with two esteemed European speakers (Europe Parliament MP Axel Voss and EC Directorate's Rupert Schlegelmilch) and two US speakers (the Atlantic Council's Kenneth Propp and Google's Karan Bhatia). 

The US speakers agreed that the EU’s strong push for digital sovereignty is welcome provided EU regulations promote US-EU cooperation, eg on AI research, setting digital and AI standards, IP protection, export controls, digital taxation, etc. But they cautioned that regulations that make it harder for US companies to invest or operate in the EU may harm cooperation on trade and geopolitics.

MP Voss suggested that EU-US disagreements are small compared to the shared values and common interest in preventing China from setting global standards based on Beijing's values. The EU still needs some digital autonomy (eg building an EU cloud, “GAIA-X” to keep EU data in Europe), but also needs to realize that too much “protection” stifles innovation. Director Schlegelmilch said the two sides are close on issues like “light touch” AI regulations, stopping disinformation, and risks of Chinese 5G. “Digital autonomy does not mean turning away from multilateral cooperation. We don't want Fortress Europe".

All speakers agreed that both the US and EU should tone down the “sovereignty rhetoric”, and focus on building on the pretty good record of US-EU COVID-19 cooperation, and give top priority to developing a modus operandi whereby the US and EU can work together to start developing common "values-based" US-EU standards on digital issues and AI, which can then develop into globally accepted standards.

The link to the video is here:

US Government experts working in this issue are, I believe, quite open to the possibility of working with EU and Commission counterparts to explore a partnership to develop common "values-based" standards on AI and digital technology.  If European colleagues have ideas or suggestions to offer in response to this blog, I would be grateful to receive them.




digital economy digitalstrategy EuropeanCommission AI Artificial Intelligence


Profile picture for user nllretju
Von Juan LLORET am Sa., 06/27/2020 - 12:59

Thank you, Geoffrey Odlum, for initiating this very urgent debate.

I totally agree with this debate proposal. It is a necessary reflection that leads to the union of technological effort, to the consolidation of cultural identifications, and also to the visualization of an undeniable reality... Europe must not walk alone.

But also the experts involved in this task of transatlantic consolidation must be technically qualified, that is, it is not enough to speak English perfectly and study laws. Pure technologists and investments in technologies are needed.

For example, Europe does NOT exist as a technological deployment entity in the field of electronics such as microprocessors: basically Asian and American technology...

Europe seems to have forgotten that technical tasks are much more than fundamental. Because a philosophical ethic, without its twin in electronic chips, is only a utopia that can lead to technological obsolescence, and total dependence on third parties. And the union with the USA can improve real, physical and palpable damage: Europe has no technology and is only justifying theories and ideologies. And that, with the passage of time, we will pay very dearly.

Regulations (standards) are extremely necessary, and shared even more.

USA and Europe can (and should) walk together in the deployment of Artificial Intelligence against third parties such as China and Russia: two world powers in AI. Although we must not forget India, a neuralgic center for learning and research development in Machine Learning on specific topics such as medicine and others.

Europe must break the inertia of using only politics and begin to link truly qualified experts / technologists for a correct direction towards the future.  And American friends / brothers will a good target.


My opinion, of course. Best regards, Juan Antonio Lloret