27 September, 2021

The case for a stronger EU - US partnership

By Lise Fuhr, Director General at ETNO and Wassim Chourbaji, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Europe, Middle East and North Africa at Qualcomm.

2021 has marked a shift in EU - US technology relations. Despite geopolitical headwinds, there is a stronger spirit of collaboration: on everything from semiconductors to automotive, from 5G to green tech. And the launch this autumn of the new Trade & Technology Council (TTC) will bring Europe and the US closer to strategic alignment.

The most successful responses to the pandemic global health crisis came from organisations working together. The EU - US Trade & Technology Council (TTC) is similarly poised to boost cooperation on technology, sustainability, supply chains and innovation challenges and opportunities. The transatlantic business community will continue to call for strong EU - US ties – particularly now when we are working collectively to accelerate digital transformation, semiconductors, automotive, 5G, AI, global standards and more sustainable technologies.

Leading organisations like ETNO and Qualcomm support the TTC objectives and we believe that including private representation throughout the process will be critical to achieving closer strategic alignment. This can be achieved in multiple ways, through a CEO level track two system, a CTO advisory committee to advise on emerging technologies or an ad hoc working group to counsel on market dynamics.

Digital opportunities

The need for connectivity is important in every facet of society. 5G is expanding the limits of what intelligent and secure connectivity can do to open new enduring opportunities for everyone and everything, for citizens and governments as well as businesses; from smart manufacturing to smart mobility; from smart homes to smart cities and expanding to many other services.

A recent Accenture report found that 5G has the potential to create or transform up to 20 million jobs across all economic sectors – including full-time, part-time and temporary jobs. When fully embraced it could also drive up to €2 trillion in additional gross output (sales) growth and add nearly €1 trillion to European GDP. The multiplier effects will be felt in every industry. For example, every ICT job created by 5G will create roughly 1.8 extra jobs in other parts of the economy.

For 5G to positively impact society, transform industries and advance sustainability, the private sector should work closely with government counterparts as part of transnational discussions to ensure these opportunities are realized and that value is created for the broadest group of businesses and citizens.

Better balanced digital supply chains

The pandemic brought into sharp focus the importance of balanced global supply chains in semiconductors. Both the EU and US need to grow their capacity and develop capabilities that make them relevant players in an ever-more-connected world.

The EU’s Digital Compass outlines the need for covering all populated areas with 5G and producing 20% of the world’s cutting-edge and sustainable semiconductors. The pattern is simple. Investing in 5G critical infrastructure and semiconductors will give the EU and US essential and complementary tools for achieving twin green and digital transitions. In this global and interconnected economy, resilient and diverse supply chains will be reinforced by augmenting key regional and digital assets, enabling open platforms to remain competitive and fostering talents. As the two regions work together and collaborate on know-how and resources, the faster we will reach the potential economic opportunity and sustainability benefits. In other words, strategic partnerships will help create a balance for mutual interest in the transatlantic space.

Enabling sustainability

There is a significant opportunity for 5G innovations to drive better environmental sustainability and greener approaches. BCG recently reported that widespread uptake of digital solutions can cut carbon emissions by 15 percent. And in some areas the benefits are even more marked. Smart 5G-enabled cities could cut emissions by more than 30 percent. The digital transformation of the transport sector could cut emissions by the same amount.

5G, communities and case studies

There are now proven 5G use cases opening a wider window of opportunity for increased transatlantic collaboration particularly with regard to transportation.


On the roads, the cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) standard powered by 5G will let vehicles communicate with and sense each other and the roads, cyclists, and pedestrians around them. This will not only drive growth but vastly improve safety as well. C-V2X optimises traffic flow and helps individual cars become more efficient. Industry sees it as a means of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and making the transport sector more sustainable.  


In Northern France, the robot called Jellyfishbot is cleaning waters in ports to protect and conserve marine life. It collects waste and hydrocarbons on the water surface. 5G-enablement will give it better access to areas that are difficult to reach, like ports, marinas, lakes, canals, nautical centres, hotel residences and industrial installations. With 5G, it will gain better and more precise remote steering, including in situations where the boat is not in the pilot's field of vision. The robot will also gain better autonomy – so that it can steer itself and recognise waste. Not only that, but 5G’s non-existent latency means easy robot recovery and gives the pilot high-definition images for remote control,  lowering the risk of potential interference when navigating between boats.


Qualcomm has recently unveiled the world’s first drone platform and reference design to offer both 5G and AI-capabilities. The platform’s ultra-low power consumption provides power efficient devices enabling fully autonomous drones. With 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, this platform enhances critical flying abilities beyond visual line-of-sight to support safer, more reliable flight. It has been designed to conduct aerial inspection of infrastructure, agriculture and assets to the filming of cinematic visuals for entertainment, to delivering packages and mission critical tasks like first response.

Innovations like these are a top priority for both US and EU policy makers trying to create a more sustainable post-pandemic economic blueprint. The more governments and business working together, can help accelerate the adoption of these ground-breaking technologies, the faster we can all benefit from these innovations.

Farmers, rural populations, and underserved communities in particular stand to benefit, because all these endeavours prioritise connecting the unconnected.


ETNO and Qualcomm appreciate the strengthening of the transatlantic dialogue on industrial and policy approaches to technology. We remain strong partners to build open, competitive and innovative ecosystems and help accelerate both the green and digital transformations of industries that will create jobs and economic growth in Europe and in the United States.

There are truths understood from Washington to Brussels and Berlin, Madrid, Paris or Rome to San Diego. Involving key industrial players in the Transatlantic dialogue remains essential. The more a city, country, or region stimulates collaboration and innovation among its people, the more competitive its economy will be. And healthy competition, in turn, benefits everyone.

© ETNO 2024
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