EU, US flaunt joint action to ‘hammer’ Russia on trade and tech

SACLAY, France — If Russia hadn’t invaded Ukraine, the new flagship for EU-U.S. cooperation wouldn’t have had nearly as much to report at its second summit.

Among the concrete slabs of the Saclay research cluster southwest of Paris, joint trade action against Moscow was cited again and again as one of the great achievements of the EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council, a new forum for policy cooperation across the Atlantic that launched in Pittsburgh last September.

“The foundation that we cemented through the TTC was indispensable for fostering the unprecedented level of cooperation on export controls and sanctions in response to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine,” read the joint statement by top EU and U.S. trade officials.

The partnership “[pushed] back against the horrible behavior of a non-market economy in Russia,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “We were able to immediately come together and hammer Russia with extreme export controls.”

The council was set up last year to soothe EU-U.S. trade relations battered by the Donald Trump presidency and to hash out differences over China.

But wording on China remained cautious and Brussels and Washington are still unclear as to what their common approach to regulating Big Tech is.

And yet, “there is so much common ground between the EU and the U.S. in the area of tech policy and digital markets regulation that I see a growing possibility for common approach,” said Andreas Schwab, lead European Parliament lawmaker on the EU’s new Digital Markets Act that aims to stop abuse by tech giants.

Officials in Saclay announced a new “sub-group” dedicated to artificial intelligence risk avoidance, a taskforce for funding IT infrastructure and supply chains in third countries, a “policy dialogue” on how to deal with big tech and mechanisms to more easily collaborate on standards and quickly react to trade crises.

The two sides also promised they’d work together on semiconductors, disinformation, food security and even standardizing charging stations for electric cars.