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WTO negotiations on data flow clauses: EU should follow US example and review outdated proposals

Press statement by Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament

Helmut Scholz

Yesterday evening, the U.S. government announced its decision to ends its support for proposals on data flows, data localization and source code being discussed in World Trade Organization negotiations on e-commerce.  

Member of the European Parliament, Helmut Scholz responded to the decision: 

"I welcome the Biden Administration’s decision to remove support for Big Tech’s proposals on data and source code in Trade Agreements. This decision is a recognition that these clauses could indeed constrain the ability of democratic bodies to regulate the activities of Big tech companies in the public interest.

I have warned that clauses such as free flow of data, ban on data localisation and non-disclosure of source code, being negotiated at the WTO and in EU bilateral trade agreements, are handcuffs on governments’ ability to hold Big Tech corporations accountable. An in-depth report published by The Left in March 2023 found evidence that these clauses are harmful for European society, Europe’s green agenda and European democracy.

The European Union should follow the steps of the US, and step back from outdated proposals that favor U.S.-based Big Tech corporations at the expense of European workers, small businesses, democracy, and human and fundamental rights. Negotiations at WTO-level must safeguard the interest of citizens and businesses in all participating jurisdictions while guaranteeing access to technology for developing and emerging countries."


Brussels, 26 October, 2023



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