European and US officials met in the suburbs of Washington on December 5 for the third summit of the Council for Commerce and Technology (CTC). This meeting, in which the European Union’s concerns about the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act were prominent, did not produce significant results, but was an opportunity to reiterate a common desire for cooperation and transparency in the digital sector.
The specter of a trade war is dismissed around the IRA
The CCT was established in June 2021 by the Old Continent and the New World to exchange, coordinate around important common principles regarding trade, economy, technology and values. On the campus of the University of Maryland, near Washington, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai were able to speak with Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovkis.
The transatlantic topic of the moment, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), took up most of the media space. This law, passed by the US Congress in August, provides $369 billion in subsidies (€352 billion) to support clean technologies in the United States.
A measure that scares from Paris to Berlin, via Brussels. Rumors of a trade war even circulated before it was formally ruled out by European officials. The capitals fear a distortion of the market that encourages companies to settle in the US, rather than in Europe, where energy prices are exploding. This topic was discussed during Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington, from November 29 to December 2, and again during the CCT.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the EU said it had ” again expressed its serious concern, particularly with regard to the discriminatory provisions of this law and the distortive subsidies “. The United States claims to take these criticisms into account and emphasizes its ” obligation to respond constructively “.
European officials testify to ” preliminary progress » and Valdis Dombrovskis said to himself « quite optimistic on the outcome of the negotiations, using an expression used by Emmanuel Macron. Nevertheless, AFP adds that a member of the European delegation said that the EU is in ” waiting for a more solid answer “. The day before the meeting, the President of the European Commission had clarified that the EU ” respond in an appropriate and well-calibrated manner to the IRA “.
Discussions must continue outside the framework of the TCC. Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Single Market, did not take part in the trip precisely because ” The CCT agenda does not leave enough room to address the concerns of many European ministers and industry “.
Discussions between the US and the EU cover a wide spectrum
Indeed, the rest of the CCT’s agenda has been loaded, from the desire to launch an initiative in favor of sustainable trade, to the stated desire to ” create a common repository of metrics to assess AI reliability and risk management methods “. Between the two, there is a tangle of the desire to create common standards around charging infrastructures for electromobility, cooperation in quantum, digital identity, etc.
The two powers also touched on the topic of semiconductors. Like the IRA, the US adopted a subsidy plan for the establishment of manufacturing facilities on their land. A chip law, the equivalent of which is being adopted on the European side. Representatives of both parties presented a ” mutual sharing of information on public support to the sector “. Transparency must “avoid concerns about aid programs”, concludes the joint press release from the CCT.
For the fourth edition of the Council for Trade and Technology, new topics should be added to the topics currently discussed, such as 6G or post-quantum encryption. It will be held this time in Europe, mid-2023.