On the 18th of November, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing support of the Three Seas Initiative. The bill is part of the American efforts to increase energy independence and infrastructure connectivity in Central Europe and is thereby strengthening the transatlantic cooperation in national security.
The bill had over 40 co-sponsors and was introduced by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois). Its passage comes as an important expression of bipartisan Congressional support for the Initiative. As the U.S. transitions between administrations and as the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation finalizes preparations to invest $300M into the Three Seas Fund in December 2020, the green light for the bill could not be more timely.
This moment also has the potential to further facilitate digitalization in Central Europe. First of all, to be truly effective in building a digital economy and to have a seat at the table in Brussels in the area of digital policy, key regional players in Central Europe must coordinate and identify their priorities. The framework of the Three Seas Initiative could be used for this joint endeavour, with is political leverage, available funding and the existing – yet underdeveloped – Digital Pillar of the initiative.
Secondly, synchronized with Europe’s digital agenda and priorities, the Three Seas Initiative is an opportunity for Central Europe to become a more significant interlocutor for the U.S. in the tech area. At the moment, U.S. policymakers rarely see CE as a key partner with regards to trade or digital policy (unlike in security and defence policy in NATO). However, a coordinated regional drive toward an advanced digital economy could change this perception, raising the region‘s profile on the digital issues both for U.S. investors and policymakers. Enhanced performance of the region will also help the European Union to reach its digital objectives faster.