In anticipation of its new powers to regulate the largest digital platforms, the EU is planning to open a San Francisco base to engage with these companies, which are based mostly in Silicon Valley and the broader Bay Area. The EU’s plans to open its first representative office on Californian soil reflects the EU’s intent to remain at the forefront of digital regulation initiatives worldwide.
The upcoming Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) will profoundly change the way digital platforms operate (see Wilson Sonsini Alerts on the DMA and the DSA). The DMA seeks to regulate the market power of the largest digital platforms through a set of strict restrictions and obligations, while the DSA targets platform liability and content moderation. The new San Francisco office will be oriented towards tech platforms caught by these rules and based on the U.S. West Coast, and will apparently focus on technology and digital policies.
Rather than an extension of the EU’s enforcement arm, the office would be a base for the EU’s diplomatic and lobbying efforts related to its digital regulation efforts. The EU already has a delegation of its diplomatic service in Washington, D.C.1 The new office would operate under the political “guidance” of the Washington delegation, which itself reports to the EU’s top diplomat (the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs).
Recruitment for the new office is ongoing but there is no timeline yet for the official launch.2 The current head of the team responsible for the EU’s digital policy is in the running to lead the San Francisco office.
For context, the DMA is expected to enter into force in October 2022, and gatekeepers will need to comply by early 2024. As it stands, the DSA is expected to be formally adopted this summer and become applicable in early 2023.
Meanwhile, a group of Members of the European Parliament involved in the drafting of the DMA will visit the headquarters of tech giants (including Google and Meta) on May 23, 2022. While it remains to be seen how this initiative matures, being stationed closer to the action may enable EU policy makers to develop a deeper understanding of the markets they seek to regulate and allow them to respond more quickly to dynamic markets characterized by rapid change.
 European External Action Service Delegation of the EU to the U.S., available at: https://www.eeas.europa.eu/united-states-america/who-we-are_en?s=253.
 Politico, EU plans Silicon Valley base as tech crackdown looms, April 26, 2022, available at: https://www.politico.eu/article/as-big-tech-crackdown-looms-eu-to-open-silicon-valley-base/.