Find out how MEPs are shaping EU artificial intelligence legislation in order to boost innovation while ensuring safety and protecting civil liberties.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a major part of the digital transformation. Indeed, it is hard to imagine life without the use of AI in many goods and services and it is set to bring more changes to the workplace, business, finance, health, security, farming and other fields. AI will also be crucial for the EU's green deal and the Covid-19 recovery.
The EU is currently preparing its first set of rules to manage the opprtunities and threats of AI, focusing on building trust in AI, including managing its potential impact on individuals, society and the economy. The new rules also aim to provide an environment in which European researchers, developers and businesses can thrive. The European Commission wants to boost private and public investment in AI technologies to €20 billion per year.
Parliament's work on AI legislation
Parliament is working on the Commission proposal, presented on 21 April 2021, for turning Europe into the global hub for trustworthy AI.
Ahead of the Commission's proposal on AI, the Parliament set up a special committee to analyse the impact of artificial intelligence on the EU economy. "Europe needs to develop AI that is trustworthy, eliminates biases and discrimination, and serves the common good, while ensuring business and industry thrive and generate economic prosperity," said the new committee chair Dragoș Tudorache.
On 20 October 2020, Parliament adopted three reports outlining how the EU can best regulate AI while boosting innovation, ethical standards and trust in technology.
One of the reports focuses on how to ensure safety, transparency and accountability, prevent bias and discrimination, foster social and environmental responsibility, and ensure respect for fundamental rights. "The citizen is at the centre of this proposal," said report author Ibán García del Blanco (S&D, Spain).
Axel Voss (EPP, Germany) wrote Parliament’s report on a civil liability regime for artificial intelligence. He explains the aim is to protect Europeans while also providing businesses with the legal certainty necessary to encourage innovation. "We're not pushing for revolution. There should be uniform rules for businesses, and existing law should be taken into account," he said.
Regarding intellectual property rights, Parliament stressed the importance of an effective system for further AI development, including the issue of patents and new creative processes. Among the issues to be resolved is the intellectual property ownership of something entirely developed by AI, said report author Stéphane Séjourné (Renew, France).
On 20 January 2021, Parliament proposed guidelines for military and non-military use of AI, especially in areas such as military, justice and health. "AI must never replace or relieve humans of their responsibility," said Gilles Lebreton (ID, France), the MEP in charge of the proposals. MEPs stressed the necessity of human oversight of AI systems used in defence and reiterated Parliament's call to ban AI-enabled autonomous lethal weapons.
On 19 May 2021, Parliament adopted a report on the use of AI in education, culture and the audiovisual sector, calling for AI technologies to be designed in a way that prevents gender, social or cultural bias and protects diversity. "Artificial intelligence should be trained to not replicate discrimination," said lead MEP Sabine Verheyen (EPP, Germany).
A day later, the Parliament called on the Commission to further tackle challenges posed by the digital transformation, focusing on AI as a technology that can enable and support Europe’s public and private sectors in the digital transition. "To take full advantage of AI’s possibilities, we need to give our businesses and start-ups room for innovation and support investment," said lead MEP Deirdre Clune (EPP, Ireland).
On 6 October 2021, MEPs demanded strong safeguards when artificial intelligence tools are used by the police, calling for a permanent ban on the automated recognition of people in public spaces as well as the transparency of algorithms to combat discrimination. "It’s not a question of whether the AI systems have the potential to result in racially biased and discriminatory outcomes. We actually know for sure that this is the case," said Bulgarian S&D member Petar Vitanov , the lead MEP for this issue.
Learn more about how the EU is helping to shape a digital transformation in Europe