Today, the European Parliament adopted MEP Marietje Schaake's (D66/ALDE) report on a digital trade strategy, with a broad majority of 510 votes in favour, 95 against and 17 abstentions. The report calls for the creation of a European digital trade strategy that enables the EU to combat new forms of digital protectionism and promote its values. You can find an unofficial version of the report here.
Schaake: “Europe is overtaking the US as the driving force behind international trade rules ever since President Trump radically changed the direction of US policy. A lot of work has been done, but we are still lagging behind in digital trade rules. Trade in the 21st century is not just about shipping cheese and cars abroad, it is also about enabling the provision of e-commerce and digital services. Today, many existing trade rules do not capture this new reality. Commissioner Malmstrom needs to pick up the gauntlet if we want the rule of law to apply in the digital economy, instead of the rule of the jungle."
Cross border data transfers in trade agreements
Data are vital for our digital economies. Nevertheless, after a year of internal discussions, the European Commission has still failed to present a position on cross-border data transfers and unjustified data localization requirements. As chapter on data-flows is missing in the latest trade agreement with Japan.
Schaake: “The Parliament now urges the Commission to draw up rules for cross-border data transfers, which are in full compliance with the EU’s existing and future data protection and privacy rules, as soon as possible. Such rules should be part of all new and recently launched trade negotiations with third countries. The different political parties have succeeded in illustrating how digital trade can be enabled while data protection standards are preserved. The Commission cannot neglect this new political reality.”
Countering digital protectionism
Schaake: “Digitalization of trade also brings along new forms of digital protectionism. New barriers such as unjustified forced data localization measures, or forcing companies to hand over the source codes of their products, should be prevented.”
Improve the rule of law online
Schaake: “Finally, setting rules for digital trade also gives us an opportunity to promote our values on a global stage. The building blocks that preserve the open internet in the EU’s digital single market, including principles such as fair competition, net neutrality and intermediary liability protections, should be promoted in Free Trade Agreements. By doing this the EU can preserve the rule of law online. We have no time to lose.”
Next week, Marietje Schaake will present the digital trade report at multiple meetings during the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva.
Watch the introduction of the report in the plenary by MEP Schaake here: