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AI Excellence: Build strategic leadership in high-impact sectors

The 2021 review of the Coordinated Plan on AI puts forward seven sectoral action areas where the EU can build strategic leadership

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The review of the Coordinated Plan on AI aims to align EU action on AI more closely with the European Green Deal and the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also takes into consideration market developments and ongoing actions in Member States.

The Coordinated Plan has identified seven sectoral areas of action: environment, health, robotics, public sector, home affairs, transport and agriculture. And, it proposes a set of joint actions for each of these areas.

Environment

AI technologies can help support Europe in achieving its green deal objectives. For instance, AI can help facilitate the transition to a circular economy, improve integration and management of the energy system, and optimise the energy efficiency of buildings. AI can also enable completely new solutions that were not possible under other technologies.

However, AI itself has a significant environmental footprint, especially in terms of energy consumption, and action is needed to mitigate this.

Examples of actions include:

  • supporting research towards greener AI, addressing the energy consumption of AI technologies through the Horizon Europe programme
  • exploring effective ways of defining key performance indicators to identify and measure the positive and negative environmental impact of AI

Health

The EU is a global leader in the application of AI in health and healthcare. AI technologies can, for example, ease the burden on healthcare systems, improve hospital workflows, enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of clinical trials, and support the discovery of new medicines. The COVID-19 pandemic further reinforced the importance of AI for health and care and provided lessons for the EU and its Member States on the benefits of further cooperation in the field.

Examples of actions include:

  • setting up testing and experimentation facilities (TEFs) for AI and robotics technologies used in health 
  • taking actions to expand the cross-border exchange of health information;

Robotics

Robotics powered by AI help to boost the EU’s productivity, competitiveness, resilience and open strategic autonomy, while preserving an open economy in the digitised world. The adoption of AI-based robotics will fuel developments in the EU robotics industry and expand the range of activities in which robots operate, increasing human-robot collaboration.

Examples of actions include:

  • supporting research and innovation towards the next generation of AI-powered robotics
  • reinforcing existing and future initiatives in this sector such as the European Partnership on AI, Data and Robotics

Public sector

AI applications can contribute to better public services by improving interaction between citizens and governments and enabling smarter analytical capabilities. Through early adoption of AI, the public sector can be a leader in utilising AI that is secure, trustworthy and sustainable. Europe’s public sector can use its strong collective purchasing power to act as a catalyst and stimulate demand for trustworthy AI.

Examples of actions include:

  • launching the Adopt AI programme to accelerate the public procurement of AI systems in Europe,
  • designing a public procurement data space that will provide a comprehensive overview of public procurement markets in the EU.

Home affairs

If designed and used in accordance with democratic systems and fundamental rights, AI systems can become a central technology to support the work of home affairs authorities. In particular, law enforcement authorities should be able to act in a rapidly changing and evolving criminal landscape to enhance the protection and safety of all persons.

 However, it is important to stress that AI systems are not a replacement for such authorities.  

Examples of actions include:

  • launching a call for a dedicated common European security data space for law enforcement
  • continuing to fund research and innovation on AI for applications that are European-based and fully respect fundamental rights and EU values.

Transport

AI and automation and are of key importance for the transport of the future. They can help improve transport efficiency and safety, optimise capacity use and traffic flows, and facilitate technology and language interoperability.

Examples of actions include:

  • developing an AI roadmap on mobility
  • setting out implementing acts for technical specifications for automated vehicles and fully automated vehicles

Agriculture

AI and other digital technologies have the potential to increase farm efficiency. And, they can improve economic and environmental sustainability. AI-powered solutions and robots can support farmers in livestock production, ensuring animal welfare and breeding, harvesting crops, weeding and more.

Examples of actions include:

  • promote agriculture as one of the main areas covered by the European Digital Innovation Hubs initiative
  • implementing a common European agriculture data space to support trustworthy pooling and sharing of data

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