US and European officials are trying to enhance their relationships by tackling internet technology challenges as part of a broad effort to boost trade and investment.
Former US secretaries of state John Kerry and Federica Mogherini and UN secretary general Antonio Guterres all said they were looking for ways to improve the relationship, even as leaders opened a US-EU tech trade and investment summit, where tech CEOs and policymakers spoke to the opportunity and pitfalls for the sector.
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Afterwards they sat down for a working dinner with executives including Oracle’s Safra Catz, Google’s Sundar Pichai and IBM’s Ginni Rometty. Companies at the summit said cyber security was emerging as a key issue for them in Europe.
“The trade in services … contributes to, basically, the standard of living of the people of the European Union,” Kerry told reporters before the dinner. “So it has to be something we focus on and build upon in European-US trade and investment.”
EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said Europe was striving to create a high-quality digital single market that would rival the European Union’s trade with China and help create high-paying jobs.
Technology firms, who previously were at odds with the European Commission over proposals to curb digital privacy, are courting the EU executive as the Trump administration rolls back US laws protecting consumer privacy online.
The EU wants to set up its own standard to negotiate international data transfers as the US prepares to dismantle the Safe Harbour agreement that has governed data transfers to Europe since 1995.
Google wins early day appeal in EU privacy row over Safe Harbour decision Google won its appeal on Thursday against a decision to lift its Safe Harbour data protection agreement with the European Union, raising the prospect of fresh restrictions on data transfers by internet companies.
“I can’t say how immediate it is but the symbolism of having this very high level of participation from both the US side and from Europe, that’s a positive thing,” said Malmstrom.
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said Europe was open to ways the two sides could work more closely on the issue as the bloc debates its future digital policy.
Speaking at the summit, Kerry said: “We have decided to step up, have an even more concerted effort to have better dialogue so we can have some dialogue on how the internet has been changing our society, changing its prospects, changing its dangers and also opportunities.”