desire for convergence between the US and the EU, but little progress

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College Park (USA) (AFP) – Europe and the United States assured Monday, at the end of trade talks near Washington, that they would go further in cooperation and transparency on new technologies, but have so far made few concrete announcements.

Delegations from the world’s two largest economies met Monday on the campus of the University of Maryland, in the suburbs of Washington, for a third meeting as part of the Council for Commerce and Technology (TTC).

In particular, they announced the creation of a transatlantic initiative in favor of sustainable trade, which should make it possible to “support the transition to a low-carbon economy” and “increase transatlantic investment and trade”, according to the joint press release.

The TTC was launched by US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in June 2021.

The discussions brought together Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, Trade Minister Gina Raimondo and Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai on the American side and on the European side Commissioners Valdis Dombrovskis with responsibility for trade and Margrethe Vestager for competition.

The US and the EU have also announced their desire to move forward with “the establishment of an information exchange mechanism” on public support for the semiconductor sector “to improve transparency.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Foreign Minister Antony Blinken at the University of Maryland in College Park on December 5, 2022 © SAUL LOEB / AFP/Archive

They also said they want to work on international standards for artificial intelligence and study the development of “reliable AI and taking into account the management of the risks” that are related.

“Waiting for a more solid response

On the other hand, little progress has been made in the discussions on the big US plan for climate and jobs (IRA), a subject that is nevertheless causing concern both in Brussels and in European capitals.

“We have the will to move forward together, not at the expense of each other”, assured Antony Blinken during a press conference after the meetings.

Valdis Dombrovskis, for his part, declared himself “quite optimistic” about the outcome of the discussions on the subject, which will be carried out by a special working group between Europeans and Americans.

That statement joins the sentiment expressed by French President Emmanuel Macron during his state visit to Washington last week, where he also declared himself “optimistic” about the Biden administration’s consideration of European fears.

EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, at the University of Maryland in College Park, December 5, 2022
EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, at the University of Maryland in College Park, December 5, 2022 © SAUL LOEB / POOL/AFP

On the European side, however, we recognize that a possible development of the legislation will be “very difficult,” according to European officials present on the scene.

“There is a desire to take our concerns into account without going into confrontation,” a European official present at the scene confirmed to the press, despite the “expectation of a more robust response” from the United States.

European officials want to build on previous discussions on semiconductors, for which cooperation is considered “very positive”. They are thus seen as “a good starting point” to move forward with concerns related to the IRA, the same source explained.

However, the American room for maneuver is reduced on this text, between the loss of the democratic majority in the House of Representatives in early January, a consequence of the midterm elections, and the highly symbolic aspect of the plan for Joe Biden.

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton, responsible for the single market, had also chosen not to accompany his colleagues to the US due to the lack of progress in this area.

“The TTC’s agenda does not leave enough room to respond to the concerns of many European ministers and industry, so the commissioner has decided not to participate,” it was explained in his office in Brussels on Friday.

The EU and the US also again condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and their willingness to continue supporting the Ukrainian government. The two parties assured that they were working to limit “the spread of false information from Russia, especially to Africa and Latin America”.

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