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A European approach to Artificial intelligence

The EU’s approach to artificial intelligence centres on excellence and trust, aiming to boost research and industrial capacity and ensure fundamental rights.

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A resilient Europe fit for the Digital Decade is one where people and businesses benefit from improvements in industry and day-to-day life generated by artificial intelligence (AI). For example, AI can help to treat diseases and minimise the environmental impact of farming.

However, any AI-generated improvements need to be based on rules that safeguard the functioning of markets and the public sector, and people’s safety and fundamental rights. If Europe is to be internationally competitive, it must carry these values to the global stage, and facilitate innovation across the EU.

In line with this vision, the Commission published its AI package proposing new rules and actions aiming to turn Europe into the global hub for trustworthy AI:

Member States and the Commission are working together to stay at the forefront of AI through the twin objectives of excellence and trust.

A European approach to excellence in AI

Fostering excellence in AI will strengthen Europe’s potential to compete globally.

The EU will achieve this by:

  1. enabling the development and uptake of AI in the EU
  2. making the EU the place where AI thrives from the lab to the market
  3. ensuring that AI works for people and is a force for good in society
  4. building strategic leadership in high-impact sectors

The Commission and Member States agreed to join forces on AI policy and investment. The revised Coordinated Plan on AI was published in April 2021. It outlines a vision to accelerate, act, and align priorities with the current European and global AI landscape and bring strategy into action.

Maximising resources and coordinating investments is a critical component of the Commission’s AI strategy. Through the Digital Europe and Horizon Europe programmes, the Commission plans to invest €1 billion per year in AI. It will mobilise additional investments from the private sector and the Member States in order to reach an annual investment volume of €20 billion over the course of this decade. And, the newly adopted Recovery and Resilience Facility makes €134 billion available for digital. This will be a game-changer, allowing Europe to amplify its ambitions and become a global leader in developing cutting-edge, trustworthy AI.

Access to high quality data is an essential factor in building high performance, robust AI systems. Initiatives such as the EU Cybersecurity Strategy, the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act,  and the Data Governance Act provide the right infrastructure for building such systems.

A European approach to trust in AI

Fostering trust in AI will create a safe and innovation friendly environment for users, developers and deployers.

Three inter-related legal initiatives proposed by the Commission will help to make Europe a safe and innovation friendly environment for the development of AI.

  1. European legal framework for AI to address fundamental rights and safety risks specific to the AI systems
  2. EU rules to address liability issues related to new technologies, including AI systems (last quarter 2021-first quarter 2022)
  3. Revision of sectoral safety legislation (e.g. Machinery Regulation, General Product Safety Directive, second quarter 2021)

European proposal for a legal framework on AI

The Commission aims to address the risks generated by specific uses of AI through a set of complementary, proportionate and flexible rules. These rules will also provide Europe with a leading role in setting the global gold standard.

This framework gives AI developers, deployers and users the clarity they need by intervening only in those cases that existing national and EU legislations do not cover. The legal framework for AI proposes a clear, easy to understand approach, based on four different levels of risk: unacceptable risk, high risk, limited risk, and minimal risk.

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