EU to open office in San Francisco to focus on tech regulation

2 Aug 2022

Image: © heyengel/

As the EU sets out to be a global leader in tech regulation, the new San Francisco office is slated to increase EU-US cooperation in this space.

The European Commission is establishing an office in San Francisco to liaise with tech companies based in the US and help them comply with EU regulations.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new EU office will open on 1 September and be headed by Gerard de Graaf, a key EU official who played an important role in the landmark tech legislation passed last month.

Establishment of the office is said to be part of a broader attempt to improve EU-US relations in the technology space. As the EU sets out to be a global leader in tech regulation, its policies have a significant impact on multinational tech companies.

Earlier this year, a group of MEPs travelled to the US to speak with tech companies such as Google, Meta, Apple, Airbnb, eBay, PayPal and Uber to exchange views on the EU’s digital policy agenda.

It came a few weeks before EU lawmakers approved the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA), the landmark pieces of legislation that aim to rein in the power of Big Tech and make the internet safer.

“For the first time ever, the European Commission will become the supervisor of ‘gatekeepers’ and very large platforms and online search engines,” European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton said on Twitter at the time.

While the DMA aims to crack down on anti-competitive behaviour by Big Tech and level the playing field in digital markets, the DSA sets out to make the internet safer with new rules for all digital services, from social media platforms to search engines, online marketplaces and more.

Politico reported in April that a new EU office in San Francisco will allow for engagement with the Silicon Valley tech giants that are under close scrutiny from these new digital rules.

The stateside base is also expected to help the US and EU cooperate on future rules. De Graaf told the Wall Street Journal that the two blocs are now working on similar rules in areas such as semiconductors. “There’s a mutual interest in cooperating very closely,” he said.

As well as the DMA and DSA, Big Tech in the US also has to comply with European rules when it comes to data protection and transatlantic data transfers.

Earlier this year, Meta threatened shut down Facebook and Instagram in the EU because of the legal quagmire around the flow of data across the Atlantic. The European Commission and the US government have started negotiations on a successor arrangement to the Privacy Shield tool that was struck down in 2020, but an agreement has yet to be finalised.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic