In June 2021, the European Union and the United States agreed to establish the Trade and Technology Council (TTC). Even though the submarine deal between Australia, UK, and US (AUKUS) cast a shadow on EU-US relations recently, the inaugural meeting of the TTC took place as planned on September 29, in Pittsburgh. In this blog post, we provide some basic information on the TTC.

What is the Trade and Technology Council (TTC)?

The Trade and Technology Council’s (TTC) primary objective is “to coordinate approaches to key global trade, economic, and technology issues and to deepen transatlantic trade and economic relations based on shared democratic values.” Its chairs are high-level representatives from both sides of the Atlantic:

EU co-chairs of the TTC:

  • Margrethe Vestager, European Commission Executive Vice-President and EU Competition Commissioner
  • Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission Executive Vice-President and EU Trade Commissioner

US co-chairs of the TTC:

  • Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State
  • Gina Raimondo US Secretary of Commerce
  • Katherine Tai, US Trade Representative.

The TTC can thus be seen as a high-level instrument to foster transatlantic exchange in key policy areas and mend the rifts in EU-US relations caused by the Trump administration and as an attempt at a rapprochement. To coordinate its work, the TTC has set up 10 working groups on specific policy areas.

Major goals of the Trade and Technology Council:

  1. Grow the bilateral trade and investment relationship;
  2. Avoid new unnecessary technical barriers to trade;
  3. Coordinate, seek common ground and strengthen global cooperation on technology, digital issues and supply chains;
  4. Support collaborative research and exchanges;
  5. Cooperate on compatible and international standards development;
  6. Facilitate regulatory policy and enforcement cooperation and, where possible, convergence;
  7. Promote innovation and leadership by US and European firms;
  8. Strengthen other areas of cooperation

Source: eu-us-summit-joint-statement-15-june-final-final.pdf (

The 10 Working Groups of the Trade and Technology Council

  1. Technology Standards
  2. Climate and Clean Tech
  3. Secure Supply Chains
  4. Information and Communication Technology and Services (ICTS) Security and Competitiveness
  5. Data Governance and Technology Platforms
  6. Misuse of Technology Threatening Security and Human Rights
  7. Export Controls
  8. Investment Screening
  9. Promoting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Access to, and Use of, Digital Technologies
  10. Global Trade Challenges

Source: EU-US Trade and Technology Council Inaugural Joint Statement (

What is it not?

It is important to note that the TTC is neither a revival nor a relaunch of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TTC is not a place for negotiations, aiming to conclude a legally binding agreement in the end.

Its purpose in the first place is to create room for bilateral exchange on a broad range of issues that both sides feel an urge to address and for which it would be helpful to have a transatlantic agreement to push further on a bi-, plural- or multilateral level.

Having said that, it is also important to add that the TTC at least is not intended to undermine the multilateral process but rather feed into it by helping the EU and US as two major players to find common grounds on important issues. The era Trump has shown very well what may happen to multilateralism when this is not the case.

What happened at the inaugural meeting?

Apart from reconfirming the major goals of the TTC, the Pittsburgh meeting resulted in a prioritization of work areas for the next few months. These are described in detail in five separate statements in the annex of the inaugural Joint Statement and include investment screening, export control, artificial intelligence, semiconductor supply chains, and global trade challenges.

Moreover, the ten working groups have also been given priorities on which to focus on. The export control working group has even been tasked with conducting a specific event on October 27, 2021, namely a joint EU-US virtual outreach to stakeholders in order to start soliciting their input.

Given the generally even vaster range of topics and policies to be covered by the TTC, these are important steps to actually produce more concrete results at the next meeting, which is supposed to take place in Spring 2022 in France.

What does it have to do with China?

Although China is neither mentioned in the section of the Joint Statement on the establishment of the TTC nor in the inaugural Joint Statement issued on September 29 in Pittsburgh, the topics covered and the language used clearly point towards the Middle Kingdom:

By setting up the TTC, the EU and the US want “to protect [their] businesses and workers from unfair trade practices, in particular those posed by non-market economies that are undermining the world trading system” and to protect their shared democratic values.

TTC key areas, such as investment screening, export controls, or critical supply chains, remain at the core of tensions in US-EU-China relations. It is therefore understandable that China is watching this move closely.

And exactly this could be a challenge for the work of the TTC. While for the United States, the TTC could indeed be a step towards a like-minded country alliance against China, the EU is reluctant to see it this way and “want[s] to avoid the TTC simply becoming an unproductive exercise at China-bashing .”

The EU at the TTC might thus find itself in a situation “to expect more pressure from its old ally to position itself clearly alongside the US,” as we already predicted earlier.