Mister Chairman, Honourable Members,
As EVP Vestager already said, the world has changed dramatically since our last discussion on the Trade and Technology Council.
Russia’s illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine is focusing minds on both sides of the Atlantic.
It highlights that strong transatlantic political, economic, trade and security ties are more important than ever.
I believe that the coordinated transatlantic response to Russia’s aggression would not have been as fast and smooth without the trust and good cooperation already built by the TTC.
In a wider sense, the war makes it totally clear that setting up the TTC was the right thing to do.
Because if the EU and U.S. do not lead the way in shaping the rules, tools and standards of the future, we now see very clearly what the alternative is.
It is absolutely imperative that our shared transatlantic values are embedded in global trade and institutions.
Because geopolitical shifts are accelerating. The tectonic plates are shifting under our feet.
One could say that we are seeing a clash of values in our European neighbourhood, with global implications:
On one side stand those who believe in democracy, the right to self-determination, rule of law, and respect for international agreements.
On the other side stand those who believe in brute force and power politics.
In this world, we have to be willing to stand up for our values. Not just talk about them.
In this light, the second TTC political level meeting, which takes place in May, takes on a new level of geopolitical relevance.
We are working very hard to make it a success, both at the political and technical level, on all the issues identified in Pittsburgh.
We are benefitting from a high level of engagement from stakeholders and interested parties. Let me say that the input from you, the Members of European Parliament, is highly valued.
But we need to go further than simply implementing what we decided in Pittsburgh.
Of course, the war in Ukraine will have an impact on what we want to achieve in the next meeting in France on 15-16 May.
It is an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the transatlantic alliance and showcase how we can use this new forum to drive forward our shared strategic goals.
So the joint statement and key deliverables will reflect both the work done since September, and our more recent joint response to geopolitical developments.
In this respect, we have reached good progress in a number of areas:
- Our work on export controls, specifically towards Russia;
- Our discussions on how to manage supply chain disruptions and replace strategic supplies - from Russia but also in a wider sense;
- our discussions on investment screening; and
- tackling disinformation and cyberattacks;
Let me update you on a few of the ongoing work streams.
On supply chain resilience, Working Group 3 is exploring ways to increase transparency of supply and demand, and map existing capabilities.
It is also looking into our respective policy measures and strategies to minimize supply chain disruptions, whether caused by pandemics, non-market practices, or geopolitical crises such as the war in Ukraine.
We have identified four key sectors essential for our strategic autonomy as well as for the green and digital transitions: clean energy, pharmaceuticals, critical materials, and semiconductors.
On export controls, we continue to push in Working Group 7 for more coherence in our policies, and for information exchanges, including on critical technologies.
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the TTC has already facilitated alignment with the U.S. on export restrictions for dual-use items and technologies to Russia and Belarus.
For investment screening, which is addressed by Working Group 8, we aim to underline our commitment to robust investment screening mechanisms and see how to expand our cooperation.
In relation to the green agenda, we are considering ways of enhancing EU-US alignment on sustainable procurement policies – an important way of promoting the uptake of green technologies.
This discussion mainly takes place in Working Group 2.
We are also seeking agreement on an ambitious trade and environment work programme for Working Group 10, which focuses on Global Trade Challenges.
Within this working group, we moreover aim to move forward with concrete steps to address non-market economic practices – looking at specific problems and how to address them with existing tools.
We will also follow up on a strong trade and labour agenda, and co-operate on a trade facilitation agenda with a view to avoiding future trade irritants.
So, we are looking forward to hearing the views of honourable members on these and other questions.
Your input, and your ongoing commitment to the TTC, through your own work but also in partnership with your colleagues in Washington, is essential for the success of this forum.
Indeed, it is clear that the TTC will only reach its goals if we maintain a high level of transparency and accountability.
The Ukraine situation reinforces this necessity, by contrasting the strength of open and inclusive democratic institutions in comparison with autocratic structures.
Accordingly, in the last few months the TTC Working Groups have been engaging intensively with relevant stakeholders, who have shared their views orally during stakeholder meetings and in writing via the dedicated Futurium online platform.
Stakeholder buy-in and expertise is crucial for identifying and delivering tangible results.
We have also heard from you. And EU Member States have provided views on many issues.
We are notably analysing the most effective ways to project an assertive transatlantic economic and security partnership. In light of the Russian aggression and the continuing challenges posed by non-market practices from players like China, this becomes eve more important.
We are looking at ways to enhance our cooperation in strategic technology areas such as semi-conductors, quantum technology, artificial intelligence and the security of the ICT supply chain.
We are assessing which concepts and instruments will advance the transatlantic strategic security of supply.
And we are aiming to strengthen transatlantic digital trade and cooperate on growing digital partnerships around the world.
To conclude, honourable members, it is in the strong mutual interest of the EU and U.S. to make the TTC a success.
Transatlantic trade and investment remains open and free-flowing.
But both sides have strong regulatory systems and we can sometimes be quite set in our ways.
Therefore, we all know that there is no low-hanging fruit in the TTC workstreams.
So making progress will require dedication and creativity, as well as strong political will and legitimacy.
Your support in this respect is essential.
So, let me once again thank you for your engagement. I look forward to a productive discussion.