Paris undermines the US-EU Tech Council. Italy at work to mend

The Vice-Presidents of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager e Valdis Dombrovskis I am already in the United States for the inauguration of the EU-US Council on Trade and Technology to be held tomorrow in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The former is scheduled to attend the Code 2021 conference. The latter has already given a speech on transatlantic cooperation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. And quoting the former American president Woodrow Wilson to underline the historic link between the European Union and the United States, he explained that it is necessary to “join forces and ensure that democracies write the rules for the 21st century”.

The goal is clear, albeit not explicit: to face a common front in the face of the rise of autocracies, primarily China.

But despite last week’s phone call between the French president Emmanuel Macron and the US one Joe Biden, the Aukus crisis – the security agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States that caused France to lose an important submarine order – has not yet come to an end.

And Paris has tried to weigh those tensions during the meetings between European diplomats in view of the Pittsburgh work. He did so by presenting various objections to the text of the joint declaration, which had already been somewhat reduced compared to initial expectations. Semiconductors, global trade and joint efforts by the World Trade Organization are the issues on which the French ambassador has suggested changes. Furthermore, he asked for a clear reference to the second meeting of the Council to be held in March next year during the French presidency of the Council of the European Union in the text.

The French requests, European sources confide, “They seem to be French, and not very European”. Translated: Paris does not play a team game by leveraging the Aukus question. The final text, which in these hours is bouncing from Brussels to Washington, risks being weak, the same sources note. Is France still trying to blow everything up?

Of course, the German elections and the coming months of negotiations for the formation of a government in Berlin represent an opportunity for Macron’s France and Italy’s Mario Draghi. But on the specific dossier of the EU-US Council on trade and technology, Italian diplomacy is working together with German diplomacy and others to soften the demands of Paris and finalize a declaration. Objective: to convince everyone but without lowering, at least not too much, the level of ambition, so that the text can be considered a success and a relaunch of transatlantic ties, and not a simple declaration of intent.

Washington is also trying to mend. Politico revealed that the senators Jeanne Shaheen (democratic) e Rob Portman (Republican), both members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, are about to present to the Senate a twin bill of the one put forward to Congress by the deputies Marcy Kaptur (democratic) e Adam Kinzinger (republican): a Transatlantic Telecommunications Security Act to ensure that the government agency US International Development Finance Corporation can finance private projects (preferably already supported by the European Commission) for 5G networks in 22 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. A proposal that obviously responds to the challenge represented by the Chinese companies Huawei and Zte. But that opens a question, the one advanced by Thorsten Benner, founder and director of the German think tank Global Public Policy Institute,

: Does the United States just want to strengthen the anti-Chinese front or at the same time also try to support American alternatives to the European ones Ericsson and Nokia?

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