By Doug Kelly, CEO, American Edge Project

The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) will meet for the second time from May 15 to 16 in France. TTC, created in June 2021, serves as a diplomatic forum to coordinate technology and trade policy between the United States and the European Union.

As the U.S. Department of State outlines, a key goal of the TTC is to demonstrate to the world how democratic and market-oriented approaches to trade, technology, and innovation can improve the lives of citizens and be a force for greater prosperity.

Additionally, TTC’s work will help develop new standards and technologies that align with our shared values, ensure that trade policies and emerging technologies are informed by national security properties and commercial needs, and help maintain U.S. and allied leadership in science and technology while countering authoritarian influence in the digital and emerging technology space.

TTC’s work is more important than ever. As the war in Ukraine has demonstrated, it matters immensely which countries build our technological future. The U.S. and its Western allies are committed to an open and accessible internet, one that helps advance our deeply held beliefs in free speech, expression, and association.

Russia and China, however, have a very different set of values about technology and the internet. Rather than an open internet that advances human knowledge, they want a closed, censored one that can be used to control their populations, stop the free flow of information, and empower the state at the expense of the individual.

These starkly differing visions for the internet and technology have played out publicly over the last 10 weeks. As Russia invaded Ukraine, U.S. and European technology companies acted quickly to knock down the Kremlin’s propaganda and misinformation, thwart hostile cyberattacks, publicize the on-the-ground realities, and rapidly rebuild Ukraine’s communication and data networks. Meanwhile, Russia banned many American technology companies and enacted harsh restrictions on free speech and reporting the truth. In lockstep with its techno-autocracy ally, China and its technology companies dutifully parroted Russian propaganda and falsehoods.

The Atlantic Council said that the TTC represents “a symbol of the restored commitment of the United States and the EU to their partnership.” With China’s increased efforts to control the global digital landscape, this “symbol” must result in meaningful outcomes that maintain our technological edge and protect our shared values of openness, accessibility, and freedom of expression. The free world is counting on it.