The new office will help coordinate transatlantic regulatory initiatives.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union government, is opening a San Francisco office on September 1, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The new office will liaise with Silicon Valley companies affected by EU tech regulations.
The new West Coast office is the latest initiative to improve the trans-Atlantic relationship over technology policies. The EU and big US tech firms have had an adversarial relationship for years, stemming from antitrust rulings and sweeping legislation on privacy, data and social media content.
The US-EU Trade and Technology Council, which was created last year to work out differences over trade and technology policy, took on new significance after Russia invaded Ukraine in February and spurred US and European officials to look for ways to counter the influence of authoritarian countries, according to officials involved. Authorities announced a plan for joint EU-US development funding of cybersecurity infrastructure in developing countries as part of the council discussions.
Serving a mutual interest
“There’s a mutual interest in cooperating very closely”, said Gerard de Graaf, who will head the new office. De Graaf, a senior European Commission official who oversaw landmark tech legislation on illegal social-media content and tech platforms’ anticompetitive behaviour that was passed this month, said the US and EU are working on similar rules for other tech areas, such as the semiconductor industry.
The Digital Services Act, approved this month, requires social media companies to adopt measures to deal with illegal content and sets out procedures to fairly do so without spelling out what content must be taken down. Separately, the Digital Markets Act, which was approved at the same time as the social media rules, deals with anti-competitive behaviour.
Soon after starting work in San Francisco, De Graaf said he would visit Sacramento to meet with lawmakers in the state capital to explain EU tech policies and understand state rules. “California has often been a trailblazer in the US. It’s difficult to get anything passed in Washington, D.C.”, he said.