Madam President, the campaign season has clearly started in the United States, which means that there is less and less focus on the rest of the world. In Europe, even though unfortunately we cannot elect the President of the Commission or the Council, we are equally inward-focused. This is undesirable and even dangerous.
In times of crisis – and perhaps especially in times of crisis – we must work hard and work together to resist nationalism and protectionism and to break down existing non-tariff barriers specifically. This House has voiced its concern with the ‘Buy American’ clauses that are being proposed in the context of growth and job acts in the United States. There is already a huge discrepancy between the openness of the European public procurement space for US bidders compared to the closed US market for EU-based companies to bid on tenders. The US business community is also worried that ‘Buy American’ clauses will hurt exports and would undermine growth instead of fostering it. The US should not alienate, but rather embrace, its European allies. This is the moment to work towards a comprehensive transatlantic jobs and growth initiative.
Europe’s digital single market desperately needs to be completed. This would open up benefits for our own consumers, SMEs and businesses, but it would also allow for a more healthy trade relation with the US, and growth of our digital economies. One of the key issues on which the US and the EU should cooperate is therefore internet freedom and the free flow of information. When we think of a transatlantic market space, let us begin online where borders should matter least.
As my colleague, Mr Lambsdorff said, we are worried about the information monopolies of certain companies. We must cooperate on standards, but I urge the Americans to think twice before adopting the PROTECT IP Act or the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would lead the arms of US law enforcement to span the entire world and it would make the US lose its moral authority. Imagine what the responses would be if China were to take down websites in the US or in Europe itself. We do not want this to happen.
(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule149(8))
Madam President, indeed we should work together to ensure that there is Internet freedom.
On the one hand, data protection is an important subject, and a subject on which we have experts in the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe. On the other hand, Internet freedom also impinges on the strategic foreign policy interests of both the United States and Europe, and is a matter on which we could cooperate much more intensely. This would, for example, mean that we would stop Western-based companies from providing the most serious infiltrating surveillance technologies to repressive regimes. It would also mean that we would prioritise expression and access to information, including on the Internet.
So there is room for cooperation, and I will bring it up during the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue in Florida next month