Brussels, 21 April 2021

On the 21st of April, the EU Commission presented its communication on AI named Fostering a European approach to artificial intelligence. This communication announces a proposal for a regulatory framework on AI and a revised coordinated plan on AI. The Communication also gives an overview of investments into artificial intelligence that will be done at European and international level.

The fundamental goal underpinning the coordinated plan and the proposed regulatory framework is to promote the development of AI in Europe, while addressing the potential high risk AI poses to the safety and fundamental rights of European citizens.

The Commission plans to invest EUR 1 billion in AI per year through the Digital Europe and Horizon Europe funding programs, while aiming to mobilize additional investments from the private sector and the Member States to reach EUR 20 billion of investments annually over the course of this decade.

Moreover, at least 20% of the EUR 672.5 billion in loans and grants that will be available to the Member States via the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), will be allocated to the Digital Transition.

The proposal for a regulatory framework for AI mainly regulates AI applications that have the potential to pose a high risk to fundamental rights, health, safety and consumer rights. High risk AI systems will need to respect a set of specifically designed requirements related, for example, to the use of high-quality datasets, traceability, human oversight and safety and cybersecurity. It is to be noted that high-risk AI systems should also be assessed for conformity before being placed on the market or put into service.

The proposal, moreover, lays down a general ban on a limited set of highly controversial uses of AI, such as systems that distort a person’s behavior or AI systems used for social scoring purposes.

Other uses of AI systems will only be subject to a minimal set of transparency requirements. “Minimal risk AI systems”, finally, will face no additional regulatory requirements.

In order for the EU to be the frontrunner in AI, coordination of policy and investments are crucial, according to the Commission. In that context, the Communication presents the review of the coordinated plan for AI which contains four key suggestions.

First suggestion is to set enabling conditions that need to be designed in an SME-friendly way. Such conditions include investing in enabling infrastructure such as data spaces and computing resources.

Second, excellence in research should be facilitated. Therefore, the Commission will, for example, focus on funding networks of AI excellence centers and set up a European Partnership on AI, Data and Robotics under Horizon Europe.

Third, in order to ensure that “AI works for people and is a force for good in society”, the EU Commission has put forward the above-mentioned regulatory framework and encourages Member States to focus on AI-related skills’ development of their citizens.

Finally, the EU sets itself the goal to build strategic leadership in a number of high impact sectors among which climate change and the environment, and mobility.

Source: European Commission