Highlights from the Fourth EU-US Ministerial Meeting of the Trade and Technology Council

The outcomes of the fourth EU-US Ministerial meeting of the Trade and Technology Council focus on digital and issues of AI, risks human rights content regulation, and connectivity.

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The fourth high-level Ministerial meeting of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) took place in Luleå, Sweden, on 31 May 2023. Launched in June 2021, the TTC has become the primary platform for the United States and the European Union (EU) to coordinate their strategies on important global trade, economic, and technology issues. Over time, the TTC has evolved into a biannual gathering attended by senior transatlantic leaders, where they discuss common approaches, assess the progress made, and unveil crucial initiatives on various topics ranging from semiconductors and quantum computing to infrastructure investments.

This year’s hot topic is AI- ‘we must mitigate its risks.’  

Parties have emphasised the need to address the risks associated with AI. They have reaffirmed their commitment to a risk-based approach in advancing AI technologies that are trustworthy and responsible. They recognise the significance of cooperation and aim to foster responsible AI innovation that respects rights, safety, and democratic values.

In pursuit of this objective, parties have proactively prioritised research and understanding of the implications of generative AI. Their goal is to establish guidelines and safeguards that promote this technology’s responsible and ethical use. As part of their efforts, they have announced the advancement of a Joint Roadmap for Trustworthy AI and Risk Management, which involves the establishment of three expert groups. These groups will focus on AI terminology and taxonomy, developing standards and tools for trustworthy AI and risk management, and devising methods to monitor and measure AI risks. This focused initiative will complement the ongoing G7 Hiroshima AI process, thereby strengthening the global approach to addressing challenges related to AI.

Cooperation: Parties have also reaffirmed their commitment to cooperation on various aspects of AI. Their collaboration extends to multilateral discussions within the G7 and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and they remain actively involved in the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence. The European Commission and the United States have also signed an administrative arrangement to support collaboration on advanced AI research in five areas: extreme weather forecasting, emergency response management, healthcare improvements, energy grid optimisation, and agriculture optimisation. The intent is to share findings and resources with international partners, including low- and middle-income countries, to foster broad societal benefits. The parties aim to implement this cooperation by establishing an internal catalogue of relevant research results and resources.

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In a press conference following the meeting, Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s top tech official and vice president of the European Commission called on EU and the USA to take the lead in creating and establishing a code of conduct for the AI industry. Immediate action is needed to foster public trust in the ongoing development of AI technologies, Vestager noted and warned that proposed regulations fall behind.

War in Ukraine – a commitment to stand by Ukraine and combat disinformation campaigns

They have acknowledged the importance of identifying the critical tools and technologies used in Russia’s war in Ukraine. Collaborative efforts are aimed at countering the evasion of sanctions and export controls. Furthermore, they have a strong determination to combat foreign information manipulation, interference, and disinformation campaigns that pose a threat to human rights, democratic processes, and the welfare of societies, including those in third countries.

Content regulation and protecting human rights online

Protection of basic human rights and well-being in the digital arena, especially that of children and youth, featured prominently in the discussion. The parties agreed that online platforms should take their services’ risks to children’s mental health and well-being more seriously. To this end, the EU and US proposed a set of principles for Transparent and accountable online platforms aimed at protecting and empowering children and youth online and facilitating data access from online platforms for independent research.

The parties also addressed the issue of foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI) in third countries, noting increased cooperation in the following areas:

  • Harmonising threat information exchange on FIMI and developing a common methodology for identifying, analysing and countering FIMI;
  • Actions aimed at preparing multistakeholder community to address FIMI threats, including capacity development efforts in Africa, Latin America, and EU Neighbourhood countries.
  •  Calling on online platforms to ensure their services’ integrity and tackle disinformation and FIMI.

Finally, the USA and EU pledged their support for human rights defenders online, recalling the specific responsibilities of states and the private sector.

Advancing collaboration in digital identity

Through a series of technical exchanges and engagement events involving experts from various sectors, they aim to develop a transatlantic mapping of digital identity resources, initiatives, and use cases. This mapping will contribute to transatlantic pre-standardisation research efforts, promote interoperability, and provide implementation guidance while upholding human rights.


Parties have completed a joint early warning mechanism in addressing semiconductor supply chain disruptions. They are committed to sharing information on public support given to the semiconductor sector, aiming to avoid subsidy races and foster mutual benefits from investments in this field. They acknowledged the progress in implementing their CHIPS Acts and maintained a continuous exchange of best practices. They also seek to collaborate further by incentivising research, promoting alternatives to harmful substances in semiconductor manufacturing, and building a comprehensive and resilient supply chain ecosystem.

Quantum technologies

A joint Task Force has been established to address various science and technology cooperation aspects in quantum technologies. The Task Force will focus on participation in public research and development programs, intellectual property rights framework, identification of critical components, standardisation, benchmarking of quantum computers, and export control. Discussions are also underway regarding cooperation in Post-Quantum Cryptography standardisation and potential avenues for future collaboration, contributing to the EU-US Cyber Dialogue.

Connectivity, digital infrastructure, subsea cables and investments:

Overall, the parties agreed to collaborate on various fronts to promote secure, resilient, and inclusive digital infrastructure and connectivity within their regions and globally.

  • Beyond 5G/6G: Both the EU and the United States are working together to develop a common vision and industry roadmap for the research and development of 6G wireless communication systems. The aim is to ensure these technologies are designed based on shared values and principles.
  • Secure and Trusted Digital Infrastructure in Third Countries: The EU and the United States share a commitment to promoting digital inclusion and secure connectivity in emerging economies. They plan to organise a ‘Digital Ministerial Roundtable on Inclusion and Connectivity’ with the participation of digital ministers from key emerging economies. The goal is to identify common needs and challenges in digital infrastructure and explore collaboration opportunities to support the digitalisation needs of these countries. Additionally, the EU and the US intend to enhance cooperation with like-minded countries, such as the G7, to support the deployment of secure and trustworthy ICT networks globally.
  • Support for Connectivity Projects: The EU and the United States are operationalising their support for inclusive ICT projects in countries like Jamaica, Kenya, Costa Rica, and the Philippines. The objective is to expedite the implementation of secure and resilient connectivity initiatives in these nations by engaging reliable vendors and offering technical aid, financial resources, and cybersecurity assistance to facilitate digital infrastructure growth. Parties aim to achieve this within the Memorandum of Understanding framework, signed between the European Investment Bank and the US International Development Finance Corporation. The parties are supporting two new connectivity projects, including the one in Costa Rica, aiming to enhance assistance for the expansion of secure and resilient digital connectivity in the country. The second connectivity project focuses on implementing a standalone 5G network, providing cybersecurity training, and extending support for establishing a national Copernicus data center in the Philippines.
  • International Connectivity and Subsea Cable Projects: The EU and the United States recognise the strategic importance of international connectivity for security and trade. They aim to promote the selection of trusted subsea cable providers for new cable projects, particularly those that promote trustworthy suppliers, reduce latency, and enhance route diversity. Both parties are also discussing connectivity and security measures for transatlantic subsea cables, including alternate routes connecting Europe, North America, and Asia.