07 Apr 2016

Building a transatlantic digital marketplace - Twenty steps toward 2020

Building a transatlantic digital marketplace - Twenty steps toward 2020


The global economy is in the throes of revolution. Big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the integrated networks of physical components are transforming every facet of economic life. Digitalization will upend supply chains, empower small businesses and consumers, rationalize energy use in the most efficient way, allow truly customized customer service, and build connections across vast distances. Soon everything from appliances to cars and even the clothes on our backs could be online as an Internet of Things crisscrosses every aspect of our daily lives.

Against this backdrop of enormous digital transformation, the United States and the European Union have the chance to seize a new big idea in the transatlantic relationship: the creation of transatlantic digital single market stretching from Silicon Valley to Tallinn. If they get it right, they can lead in creating a climate of digital prosperity, security, and privacy for a world where digitalization permeates everything, data is moving faster, and borders are less relevant. In short, they can give a new jolt to the transatlantic economy while—at the same time—ensuring that the global digital economy remains a space for free trade, free markets, and free people.

With this goal in mind, the Atlantic Council created the Task Force for Advancing the Transatlantic Digital Agenda—co-chaired by former Swedish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and former FCC Chairman and US Ambassador to the EU, William Kennard. Our goal was simple: take on this big idea and flesh it out with concrete policy steps that would make it possible. This task force brought together twenty-five of the best minds —former senior government officials, members of the business community, start up representatives and entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, academics and policy experts—to tackle these questions. They came together in Washington, Brussels, Berlin, and Warsaw for intense discussions on a range of pressing issues facing transatlantic digital policy. This report is a culmination of those efforts.

I would like to offer our particular thanks to the Co-Chairs of this Task Force, Carl Bildt and William Kennard, for their guidance and stewardship over the course of this process. They challenged the task force to think big and come up with the practical steps necessary to forge a digital single market spanning the Atlantic. We would also like to thank the brain trust—our task force members—for their vision, energy, creative thinking, and critical analysis of many nuanced issues.

A special thanks to our on-the-ground partners in this project, Digital Europe in Brussels, Aspen Berlin in Germany, and Dentons Europe in Warsaw. Their support was instrumental in facilitating the high-octane workshops that gave the task force important insight into Europe’s hopes, concerns, and expectations in these key capitals. We also like to thank the numerous outside speakers from the US government, European Commission, European Parliament and other governments who helped guide us in our deliberations.

I would like to acknowledge the leadership of Fran Burwell, Atlantic Council Vice President for European Union and Special Initiatives. Tyson Barker performed his work as rapporteur with great distinction and persistence. Sarah Bedenbaugh made sure that the workshops ran smoothly, efficiently, and successfully. And thanks to Susan Haigh and Anastassios Adamopoulos for their extensive support, thorough research, and tireless dedication to this project.

Finally, we want to extend our deepest appreciation to Google for its generous support to this endeavor, and also to Telefonica and the Software and Information Industry Association. Our work would not have been possible if it were not for their recognition of the importance and urgency of this unique moment in transatlantic digital policy. In the future, our economic prosperity will depend on success in building new digital bridges between our two economies. We hope that this report can contribute to that effort.

Frederick Kempe
President and CEO, Atlantic Council

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