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The uptake of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems has a strong potential to bring societal benefits, economic growth and enhance EU innovation and global competitiveness. At the same time, it is commonly acknowledged that the specific characteristics of certain AI systems raise some concerns especially with regard to safety, security and fundamental rights protection.
A reflection has started in the EU on how to address those concerns. The European Commission published in February 2020 a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and proposed to set up a European regulatory framework for trustworthy AI.
The European Parliament adopted in October 2020 three legislative resolutions on AI covering ethics, civil liability, and intellectual property (IP) and asked the Commission to establish a comprehensive and future-proof European legal framework of ethical principles for the development, deployment and use of AI, robotics and related technologies (See separate fiches for each of the legislative resolutions).
Against this background, the European Commission unveiled a proposal for a new Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) in April 2021. The Commission proposes to enshrine in EU law a technology-neutral definition of AI systems. The Commission proposes as well to adopt different set of rules tailored on a risk-based approach with four levels of risks:
- Unacceptable risk AI. Harmful uses of AI that contravene EU values (such as social scoring by governments) will be banned because of the unacceptable risk they create;
- High-risk AI. A number of AI systems (listed in an Annex) that are creating adverse impact on people's safety or their fundamental rights are considered to be high-risk. In order to ensure trust and consistent high level of protection of safety and fundamental rights, a range of mandatory requirements (including a conformity assessment) would apply to all high-risks systems;
- Limited risk AI. Some AI systems will be subject to a limited set of obligations (e.g. transparency);
- Minimal risk AI. All other AI systems can be developed and used in the EU without additional legal obligations than existing legislation.
- narrows down the definition to systems developed through machine learning approaches and logic- and knowledge-based approaches;
- extends to private actors the prohibition on using AI for social scoring;
- adds a horizontal layer on top of the high-risk classification to ensure that AI systems that are not likely to cause serious fundamental rights violations or other significant risks are not captured;
- clarifies the requirements for high-risk AI systems;
- adds new provisions to account of situations where AI systems can be used for many different purposes (general purpose AI);
- clarifies the scope of the AI act (e.g. explicit exclusion of national security, defence, and military purposes from the scope of the AI Act) and provisions relating to law enforcement authorities;
- simplifies the compliance framework for the AI Act;
- adds new provisions to increase transparency and allow users' complaints;
- substantially modifies the provisions concerning measures in support of innovation (e.g. AI regulatory sandboxes).
In Parliament, the discussions are led by the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO; rapporteur: Brando Benifei, S&D, Italy) and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE; rapporteur: Dragos Tudorache, Renew, Romania) under a joint committee procedure. The legal Affairs Committee (JURI), the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) are associated to the legislative work with shared and/or exclusive competences.
The ITRE Committee (rapporteur: Eva Maydell, EPP, BG), the ENVI Committee (rapporteur: Susana Solís Pérez, Renew, ES), the CULT Committee (rapporteur: Marcel Kolaja, Greens/European Free Alliance), the Transport Committee (rapporteur: Josianne Cutajar, S&D, Malta) and the JURI committee (rapporteur Axel Voss, EPP, Germany) have all already adopted their recommendations.
The two co-rapporteurs MEP Brando Benifei and MEP Dragos Tudorache unveiled their draft report in April 2022. The draft report received more than 3000 amendments that are being considered. The IMCO and the LIBE committees are expected to adopt their draft report in May 2023.
- EP Legislative Observatory, Artificial Intelligence Act, 2021/0106(COD)
- European Parliament, IMCO-LIBE draft report, April 2022
- European Parliament, TRAN opinion, July 2022
- European Parliament, ITRE opinion, June 2022
- European Parliament, Artificial Intelligence Act: MEPs add their recommendations for culture and education, Press release, 15 June 2022
- European Parliament, ENVI opinion, April 2022
- European Parliament, JURI opinion, September 2022
- Council, Artificial Intelligence Act: Council calls for promoting safe AI that respects fundamental rights, December 2022
- European Economic and Social Committee, Opinion on Artificial Intelligence Act, 22 September 2021
- Committee of the Regions, European Approach to Artificial Intelligence - Artificial Intelligence Act, December 2021
- European Parliament, EPRS, General-purpose artificial intelligence, March 2023
- European Parliament, EPRS, Artificial intelligence act and regulatory sandboxes, June 2022
- European Parliament, EPRS, Artificial intelligence in healthcare: Applications, risks, and ethical and societal impacts, June 2022
- European Parliament, EPRS, Regulatory divergences in the draft AI act: Differences in public and private sector obligations, May 2022
- European Parliament,EPRS, Artificial intelligence act, Legislative briefing, January 2022
- European Parliament, EPRS, Regulating facial recognition in the EU, September 2021
Author: Tambiama Madiega, Members' Research Service, email@example.com