US warns EU about anti-US tech policy

The US has warned the EU against pursuing “protectionist” technology policies that exclusively target US companies, ahead of Joe Biden’s first presidential visit to Brussels.

The National Security Council, a branch of the White House, wrote last week to complain about the tone of recent comments on the EU’s flagship tech regulation, as debates are about to begin in the European Parliament.

“We are particularly concerned by the recent comments by the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the Digital Markets Act, Andreas Schwab, who suggested that the DMA should undoubtedly target only the five largest US companies,” said the e-mail, seen by the Financial Times and dated June 9. .

He added: “Comments and approaches like this make regulatory cooperation between the United States and Europe extremely difficult and send the message that the [European] The Commission is not interested in engaging in good faith with the United States to address these common challenges in a way that serves our common interests.

“Protectionist measures could put European citizens at a disadvantage and hamper innovation in the economies of Member States. Such policies will also hamper our ability to work together to harmonize our regulatory systems, ”he said.

The note was sent by the NSC to staff at the EU delegation in the US capital, according to several people familiar with it, as part of routine communications between Washington and Brussels.

This comes at a time when the United States and the EU are keen to rebuild a relationship that has been marred by acrimony during Donald Trump’s presidency. On Tuesday, Biden will attend an EU-US summit in Brussels to discuss trade, technology and China.

Also on Tuesday, the United States and the EU resolved a 17-year dispute on aircraft subsidies, lifting the threat of billions of dollars in punitive tariffs.

At the Brussels summit, the two parties will commit to forming a “Trade and Technology Council”. This will coordinate standards on new technologies, such as AI, discuss technology supply chains, and address technology regulations and competition policy.

“We believe that there is a lot of room to cooperate with Europe on a range [of] digital, data and technology regulatory issues, and look forward to a constructive dialogue. We also believe it is important that any digital, data or technology regulations treat individuals and businesses fairly and on the basis of objective standards, ”an NSC spokesperson told FT.

Last month, Schwab, a center-right German MEP and longtime Google critic, said in an interview with the FT that America’s five biggest tech companies – Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft – were the “bigger problemsFor EU competition policy.

“Let’s focus on the biggest problems first, the biggest bottlenecks. Let’s go further – one, two, three, four, five – and maybe six with [China’s] Alibaba, ”he said. “But let’s not start with number seven to include a European goalkeeper just to please Biden.”

The Digital Markets Act is a bill that aims to limit the power of Big Techs and is the first major overhaul of EU technology regulations in two decades.

The White House is facing pressure from some members of Congress to take a stronger stance against the EU’s plans. A letter signed by the co-chairs of the Digital Commerce Caucus in the United States last week warned Biden that EU legislation has the potential to “”disproportionate harm American technology companies ”.

An NSC official said the snippets of the email obtained by the FT were handpicked and did not reflect the broader context of the communication, which indicated common ground and the belief that Washington and Brussels should work together on digital policies.

The NSC official added that in addition to email from staff, he sent technical questions to better understand the proposed legislation.

The NSC note followed an agreement reached earlier this month by the US-led G7 countries to change global tax rules set minimum tax rates and tax the largest companies in countries where sales take place.

The European Commission declined to comment.

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