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Digital infrastructure, AI roadmap tangible results of transatlantic cooperation

The US administration and European Commission will meet in Washington on 5 December, the third in the context of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC), an EU-US initiative launched last year to provide a permanent platform for cooperation

By: EBR - Posted: Monday, November 21, 2022

On top of the agenda for the next ministerial meeting are joint initiatives the two blocs will undersign with representatives of the Jamaican and Kenyan governments for digital connectivity projects.
On top of the agenda for the next ministerial meeting are joint initiatives the two blocs will undersign with representatives of the Jamaican and Kenyan governments for digital connectivity projects.

by Luca Bertuzzi

The US administration and European Commission will meet in Washington on 5 December, the third in the context of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC), an EU-US initiative launched last year to provide a permanent platform for cooperation.

The first meeting was already a success as the relations between the two blocs warmed up following their chilled status under the Trump administration. The second meeting last May was primarily hijacked by the Russian aggression on Ukraine. Now, the two partners are keen to display that, after much hype, the cooperation brought concrete results.

“These outcomes represent tangible progress across all workstreams established under the TTC,” reads the draft joint statement for the next summit, seen by EURACTIV.

Digital infrastructure in third countries

On top of the agenda for the next ministerial meeting are joint initiatives the two blocs will undersign with representatives of the Jamaican and Kenyan governments for digital connectivity projects.

The choice of these two countries, which have both kept an unambiguous pro-Western policy toward Russia and China, seems to reflect the geographical priorities of the US and EU, respectively.

In Jamaica, the plan is to foster internet connection to over 1,000 public schools and households, enhance teachers’ digital competencies, and support technology uptakes by SMEs.

In Kenya, the work will start with a study on the need for fibre optic connections in report areas, a policy roadmap for secure connectivity and training options for digital professionals.

Future EU-US coordination for digital infrastructure projects in third countries will be underpinned by a memorandum of understanding to be signed between the U.S. Development Finance Corporation and the European Investment Bank.

Undersea cables

In terms of strengthening the resilience of the internet ecosystem, the joint statement refers to undersea cables and the fact that the relevant working group is discussing “projects that use alternative routes, such as the transatlantic route to connect Europe, North America and Asia.”

The reference is a subsea cable to connect Europe to Japan via Alaska. Although firmly pushed by the European side, the US support for this expensive project is still not assured, hence it did not make it into the statement.

AI Roadmap

The statement includes an AI joint roadmap outlining the tools and methodologies for AI risk management as a first practical step to operationalise trustworthy AI.

It aims to develop ashared understanding of essential concepts like trustworthiness, risk, and harm, building on the EU’s AI Act and the US AI Bill of Rights. Coordination will also relate to standards developments, starting with the research that underpins this work.

In addition, the EU and US intend to build a shared repository of metrics for measuring AI trustworthiness and risk management methods, which could also support ongoing work in other settings such as the OECD.

Other actionable steps include a catalogue for risk categories to detect emergent risks better, and interoperable evaluations of AI risk, for instance, for determining accuracy.

Emerging technologies

The draft conclusions mention that a pilot project on privacy-enhancing technologies has been identified to be launched in the first quarter of 2023. Still, no actual mention of what the project will consist of is included.

There is also a reference to Tech for Good, a collaboration platform for research projects prioritising extreme weather and climate forecasting, health, electric grid optimisation, agriculture and emergency response management.

A quantum task force will be established to remove barriers to transatlantic cooperation in this critical research area and collaborate on matters related to technology readiness, intellectual property, export control and international standards.

Standardisation

The two partners have been working on developing a common standard for electric vehicle charging by 2024. In this regard, they will deliver joint technical specifications for the physical plug and the communication exchange between the vehicle and infrastructure.

Workstreams for standards cooperation have been launched on additive manufacturing, recycling of plastics, and digital identity. In the pipeline, there are now post-quantum encryption and Internet of Things standards, including for cybersecurity.

Supply chain security

In the field of supply chain security, the US government and EU executive will sign an administrative arrangement to implement an early warning mechanism that draws on a pilot carried out last summer to test information exchange in case of disruptive events.

As transparency is deemed a crucial way to avoid a subsidy race, the next ministerial will see the signature of an administrative arrangement memorialising protocol. The idea is also to work with the industry to improve forecasting of global semiconductor demand.

Export control & investment screening

The war in Ukraine provided a test for more muscular transatlantic coordination on export control measures aimed at Russia and Belarus and targeting dual-use technologies. The idea is now to expand this coordinated approach also to like-minded partners.

“The United States and the European Union are increasingly concerned with the use of economic coercion that seeks to interfere with our legitimate sovereign choices,” the draft says.

Sustainability

The summit will launch a transatlantic initiative on sustainable trade to support coherence in approaches to green public procurement, GHG assessment methodologies, and supply chain traceability, starting with the Chinese-dominated solar industry.

*first published in: Euractiv.com

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