Thursday, 27 June 2013

TTIP: how to lobby the EU and US, etc – Sidley cloud computing roundtable

TTIP

At the June Sidley cloud computing roundtable, held under the Chatham House Rule, one major topic discussed was the proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership, aka TTIP.

In TTIP, both cloud computing and data protection law will be horizontal issues spanning specific areas such as financial services, telecommunications services, computing services and global standards. It isn’t yet clear how the draft Data Protection Regulation will affect TTIP. Or indeed vice versa.

However, in terms of lobbying the EU and US on TTIP, a very helpful outline was given by Yohan Benizri. Some of this may seem self-evident, but I think it’s still useful to set it out.

Participating in consultations is very important, but that’s not in fact the most effective tool available to stakeholders. It seems that direct engagement with negotiators is more likely to lead to better results.

TTIP negotiators, on the European Commission side, will include Ignacio Garcia Bercero and Damien Levie, in DG Trade (under De Gucht), but other DGs, such as DG Connect and Justice (for cloud and privacy/data protection issues) will also be involved. DG Trade is playing a leading role, but positions and text will be developed in close cooperation with other DGs.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Dan Mullaney will probably be the key person, working with Mike Froman (USTR).

The best approach, again at the risk of stating the obvious, is to explain the issues and their (even if speculative) potential implications, and then suggest draft text or drafting changes to address those issues. In other words, don’t just raise the problem, but offer a possible solution too.

Forming ad hoc coalitions of organisations with common interests may also be useful, to voice collective concerns to both the EU and US sides. Indeed, suggesting the same text to both USTR and EU may help.

Other topics

More generally regarding the draft Data Protection Regulation, some EU governments have reportedly expressed the view that the draft legislation might not go through at all, because the vast gulf between the Council and the European Parliament may make agreement between them, at least within the next year or so, seem unlikely. (Of course, others have also expressed this view, eg Chris Pounder at Amberhawk, with Lionel de Souza at Hogan Lovells reporting the French government’s serious reservations about the draft Regulation.)

Also discussed at the roundtable were the EU cloud strategy including cloud standards; and competition law issues, notably the actions against Google in relation to search (and now see Google’s subsequent blog on the subject).

Full disclosure: I gave the firestarter presentation on the EU cloud strategy at this roundtable. I used to work for Sidley. But Sidley didn’t pay me for my participation, or for this blog. This blog is, obviously, mine alone.