12 Nov 2020

Digital trade will deliver jobs and growth if we stay open and set strong international rules

The European Commission’s upcoming Trade Policy Review is a unique opportunity to promote Europe’s role as a global leader in digital trade. In its response to the Commission’s consultation, DIGITALEUROPE puts forward four key recommendations for a cross-cutting approach built on openness and rules. Our digital trade strategy will help companies in the EU to become leading exporters of products and services online and to assert their position on the global market.

Director-General of DIGITALEUROPE Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl said:

“Digital has revolutionised international trade, allowing businesses small and large to export more easily across the world. Digital trade is growing faster than trade in goods, and approximately 60 per cent of global goods trade is in some way facilitated by digital tools. Europe needs to embrace these opportunities – we cannot cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, especially as we look to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis.

Europe’s approach to trade must reflect digital’s cross-cutting role across other policy areas. It should also facilitate international data flows and open digital markets within its own regulatory framework and in multilateral settings, including the World Trade Organization and the G20.

We look forward to working with the European Commission and our trade partners to better define an ‘open strategic autonomy’ approach based on openness, strong multilateral rules, and the alignment of digital policies and standards.”


As the EU looks to implement a trade policy based on “open strategic autonomy”, DIGITALEUROPE recommends four guiding principles that will allow European companies to assert their leading position in the global market and benefit from the opportunities opened up by digital trade.

  1. Getting the principles right: The EU should carefully define the meaning of “open strategic autonomy” by always considering its constituent parts together. Autonomy can not be achieved – and should not be considered a goal – without openness to the global market, and a strategic approach to building trade relations and thus diversifying supply chains.
  2. Leading the way on digital trade: The Commission should consider digital trade as a horizontal enabler of European economic growth, with particular attention to alignment of digital standards and policies on areas like data protection and governance, AI, cyber security and facilitating international data flows promoting open digital markets in trade agreements, and developing open and secure technical infrastructure.
  3. Ensuring coherence across policy areas: The EU’s approach to trade should seek synergies with policy actions and commitments. Trade can be an effective vehicle to strengthen Europe’s supply chains, promote European values, and address global challenges such as climate action.
  4. Building a trade ecosystem that delivers: Europe should seek a leadership role in defining rules in multilateral settings, and should adopt a tailored approach to its bilateral agreements to address specific regulatory challenges.
Read our full response to the public consultation on the Trade Policy Review

Building tomorrow’s global trade ecosystem

For more information, please contact:
Chris Ruff
Director for Political Outreach & Communications
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