By Senators Saxby Chambliss & Kent Conrad

In an unusual mission, American officials recently flew to Brussels to collaborate with foreign dignitaries at the “Antitrust, Regulation and the Next World Order” forum. Their goal was to devise strategies to undermine America’s leading tech companies through a coordinated regulatory plan that unfortunately will undermine our domestic engines of innovation.

This is deeply concerning because technological innovation has for decades been the driving force behind America’s economic prosperity and national security might. The tools, platforms, and services created by our tech innovators create high-paying American jobs, birth entire new domestic industries, and improve our lives on a day-to-day basis. And with a new era of breakthrough capabilities on the horizon – such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced wireless, biotech – the opportunities that lie ahead are seemingly endless.

If America is going to maintain its economic preeminence, we must lead the way in pioneering these next-generation technologies by harnessing the spirit of private entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and innovation that has built this nation into the most powerful and prosperous country in the world.

Yet gatherings like this Brussels forum show some policymakers’ preferences for stifling innovation with more regulations. The EU has already started this process – its Digital Markets Act (DMA) imposes strict rules on U.S. tech firms, while largely sparing China’s and Europe’s. Now E.U. regulators aim to bring their anti-innovation comrades across the Atlantic onboard.

But excessive regulation has never been a path to growth. The Wall Street Journal reports that Europe’s Stoxx 600 index and GDP growth lagged significant behind the U.S.’s in 2023. Additionally, a recent analysis from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) estimates that if the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) adopted competition policies as stringent as Canada’s, real U.S. GDP could shrink by $134 billion – showing how its Chairwoman Lina Khan’s approach risks hobbling sectors critical to competing with China, like AI.

This follows another recent example of transatlantic tech policy gone awry. Just a few months ago, the U.S. Trade Representative abruptly opted to withdraw from World Trade Organization (WTO) digital trade negotiations, a move that drew bipartisan condemnation from Capitol Hill. 

Excessive regulatory pressures weaken America’s competitive edge in tech against rivals like China, which is determined to supplant the U.S. in the global tech race. President Xi has invested over $1 trillion toward dominating strategic technologies by 2030. His “China Standards 2035” plan seeks to control the global governance of technology, allowing Beijing to censor and surveil while reaping economic spoils.

The implications of China controlling foundational technologies are chilling – from data privacy concerns to supply chain coercion to enabling authoritarian regimes. Democratic nations must maintain leadership across emerging techs. Yet instead of emphasizing policies that support U.S. competitiveness, some American policymakers seem intent on following Europe down the same innovation-quashing path. But voters disagree – a recent American Edge Project survey found that 80 percent of U.S. and European voters want increased collaboration to counter China’s growing technological influence.

We can’t let regulatory overreach compromise America’s innovation capacity. America has pioneered virtually every major technological breakthrough over the past century, from electricity to automobiles to computing to the internet. By continuing this legacy of visionary innovation, the United States can usher in a new era of prosperity that touches every citizen while checking authoritarian influence across the globe. But this requires policymakers to reject restrictive E.U. policies, and instead embrace policies that accelerate innovation.

The stakes could not be higher. The decisions made today will determine whether America pioneers the breakthroughs of tomorrow or relinquishes leadership to authoritarian regimes. It is imperative that Congress and the Administration come together to renew our innovative spirit and secure U.S. tech leadership for decades to come. 

Kent Conrad represented North Dakota in the Senate from 1986 to 2013 as a Democrat. Saxby Chambliss represented Georgia in the Senate from 2003 to 2015 as a Republican. Senators Conrad and Chambliss serve as advisers to the American Edge Project.