The US government and American tech companies are watching EU policies to make sure the Digital Single Market strengthens EU-US business relations, writes Penny Pritzker.
Penny Pritzker is the US Secretary of Commerce.
From Spotify to Snapchat, the digital economy has transformed our daily lives, changing the way we listen to music, the way we communicate with each other, the way we consume news, and the way we conduct business. Technological innovation is a critical part of our present reality, and it will continue to drive the world’s economic future. According to one study, the Internet economy in G-20 markets is expected to grow at an annual rate of 8% over the next five years, far outpacing just about every traditional economic sector.
Last week I traveled to Brussels to meet with EU government and business leaders about policies, regulatory frameworks, and key initiatives related to the digital economy. The US and the EU have a storied history of cooperation. Our shared values have long-shaped the rules of the global economy—from our commitment to free and fair trade, to our adherence to the rule of law and our protection of intellectual property.
When it comes to setting standards for the digital economy, however, we are faced with a choice: will we approach this new frontier with a shared vision that creates opportunities for our businesses and people alike, or will we take divergent paths that disadvantage our companies and make us both less competitive?
During my visit, Europe’s leaders expressed their commitment to digital policies that lead to job creation and growth on both sides of the Atlantic and preserve a level playing field for American companies competing in Europe.
The European Commission’s Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy announced in May provides an opportunity for the EU to take action that would demonstrate an open approach. The DSM could be used to knock down internal legal and regulatory barriers to growth, enhance Europe’s global position in the digital economy, and promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent.
While a Digital Single Market will make it easier to do business within Europe, American government and industry leaders believe a successful DSM strategy must also improve the conditions for US firms engaged in transatlantic trade and investment. We know that the US and the EU are already open for business with one another—our total trade reached more than $1 trillion in 2014 and the US is the largest source of foreign direct investment in the European Union.
A successful Digital Single Market can build on that success. American government and industry are watching the development of specific policies under the DSM – in areas such as Internet platforms, copyrights, and privacy – to ensure that their effects will encourage stronger commercial ties between the US and Europe while setting high standards for the global digital economy. A DSM that facilitates the flow of information and services worldwide will send a clear message to the rest of the world: an open Internet is essential to 21st century competitiveness.
Concerns certainly remain, but I came away from my visit optimistic and reminded that the United States and Europe have unified goals for our engagement in the digital economy—our businesses want to increase productivity; our local governments want to increase their efficiency; our workers want jobs in growing industries; and our people want more applications and greater consumer choice.
My role as the US Secretary of Commerce is to lead our administration’s efforts to help achieve these ends. Each and every day, the Department of Commerce is shaping Internet policy, supporting broadband access across the country, investing in regional innovation ecosystems, and crafting technology and cybersecurity standards—all to create a climate that leads to economic growth. I know we have strong and committed partners in the EU, who recognize our significant shared interests. We all look forward to the opportunities that exist for cooperation.