By Karim Antonio Lesina, Vice President of AT&T’s International External Affairs for the European Union, Caribbean and Latin America, and Trans-Atlantic Relations
As we have noted in this blog before, the focus on investing in innovative technology has been a special hallmark of growth in the transatlantic economy. To realize the full potential of the transatlantic digital economy, we need to get the relationship between innovation and regulation right. Which brings me to the EU-U.S. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that I am convinced could encourage investments in innovation and next-generation technologies on both sides of the Atlantic.
Last week, Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs, participated in an event in Washington, D.C. with José María Aznár López, former Prime Minister of Spain, to discuss the importance of the TTIP. Listening to the remarks of Prime Minister Aznar was very enlightening about what we can achieve.
It’s clear that many regulations in both the U.S. and the EU have become outmoded, and we should join forces to promote a healthy regulatory climate for communications technology and services. Similar messages also came from the panelists: Jaime Garcia-Legaz Ponce, Secretary of State for Commerce of Spain; Ambassador Miriam Sapiro, Deputy U.S.Trade Representative; Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and former U.S. Congressman Cliff Stearns.
The panel was moderated by Joshua Bolten, former White House Chief of Staff and Budget Director in the George W. Bush Administration.
Working together on ambitious, common objectives will only strengthen our closely interrelated economic future. The experience of solving hard problems – as I know we can – will bring us even closer than we are today. Because our industry is global in nature, we need some level of interoperability of rules across national boundaries that an agreement could deliver. This is true within the EU and also true between the EU and the U.S. A high standard agreement, one that resolves difficult issues, can become the gold standard to which other countries will rise if they want to participate fully in the digital economy. Jaime Garcia-Legaz insisted on the concept of “mutual recognition” for existing legislation as a starting base, and I think that he is right.
Another important point is that an EU-U.S. agreement will not be about picking low-hanging fruit such as fundamental market access because, when it comes to telecommunications, this fruit has already been picked. This negotiation will be about resolving more challenging issues. And the good news is we already have a roadmap in place for the ICT sector. In 2011, the U.S. and EU developed a set of non-binding trade-related principles for ICT services that provide guideposts for digital economy issues. These have been negotiated and agreed as key concerns, so they are a logical starting point.
In short, with an eye toward our interconnected future as global economic leaders, we can align in our efforts to modernize the regulatory environment for communications technology. We look forward to our continued work together to set the path to recovery of jobs and economic growth.