By Len J Cali, Senior Vice President – Global Public Policy
The Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN) just concluded its fourth Transatlantic Week here in Washington D.C. TPN seeks to help define the transatlantic relationship by promoting partnership between the people and governments of the EU and the U.S.
During Transatlantic Week, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on moving towards a digitally-driven transatlantic market. This was quite an honor given the importance of information and communications technology to our economic, social, and personal lives. Indeed, if we, as a transatlantic community, cannot find common ground to foster and facilitate a free and open digital market, we will fall far short of an effective transatlantic trade and investment partnership.
I say this for two reasons.
First is the obvious, information and communications technology is extremely important to our societies and our lives. It is an essential and increasingly important driver of economic growth, job creation, and production efficiencies. Every industry that participates in the transatlantic economy will rely on a seamless digital market. This technology also plays an increasingly important role in our personal and social lives, governance, social engagement, education, and the like.
Second, the technology is by its nature global. Like water finding its level, packets find their end point. It is almost inexorable, regardless of the barriers that any private entity or government might try to erect. To restrict this would significantly undermine the value and promise of the technology.
Of course, this does not mean that we do not have important policy questions to resolve. As many people highlighted during the week, the free flow of information across national borders and the ability of commercial actors to operate in a market without a physical presence can be unsettling. We have important social policies and objectives, including expectations of privacy, transparency, and fair dealing, that we need to protect and advance. These issues are important to all of us and we can and should protect them while at the same time not foregoing the benefits of new global technologies that promise to make all our lives better.
We should also recognize a common interest in the policy frameworks that foster investment in the robust, high speed, and low latency networks that make the digital market a reality. These include legacy regulatory frameworks that need to be modernized to reflect the current state of technology and markets – instead of perpetuating 20th century rules designed for monopoly copper networks – and spectrum policies that lie at the heart of the private sector’s ability and incentive to invest in mobile broadband networks.
As with any partnership, I expect we will not agree on all the details of the various approaches to achieving common objectives. But we should be able to agree on the objectives and develop interoperable frameworks that permit mutual recognition of each partner’s good faith efforts to achieve these objectives. And nowhere should we be better able to do this than in the context of our transatlantic relationship.
If we succeed in this endeavor, we will have established the framework that allows transatlantic economies to take full advantage of new digital technologies. This will make all our economies more productive and more inclusive while at the same time advancing social policy objectives important on both sides of the Atlantic.