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EU reaches landmark deal on AI regulation rules

Deal focuses regulation on identifiable risks, provides legal certainty, and paves way for innovation in trustworthy AI, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said

EU reaches landmark deal on AI regulation rules
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

European Union (EU) officials have reached a deal on the proposal for harmonized rules to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe. 

The agreement on the new legislation will ensure that AI systems placed on the European market and used in the EU are safe and respect fundamental rights and EU values, the European Council said in a statement. 

The European Council presidency and the European Parliament’s negotiators reached the deal on 9 December following a three-day marathon talks. 

This landmark proposal also aims to stimulate investment and innovation on AI in Europe.

Called the Artificial Intelligence Act, the legislation has been drafted to foster the development and uptake of safe and trustworthy AI across the EU’s single market by both private and public actors. As the first legislative proposal of its kind in the world, it can set a global standard for AI regulation in other jurisdictions. 

The BBC reported that the European Parliament will vote on the AI Act proposals early next year. Any legislation, the report said, will not take effect until at least 2025.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the agreement focuses regulation on identifiable risks, provides legal certainty, and opens the way for innovation in trustworthy AI. 

“By guaranteeing the safety and fundamental rights of people and businesses, the Act will support the human-centric, transparent and responsible development, deployment and take-up of AI in the EU,” she said in a statement. 

The provisional agreement contains rules on high-impact general-purpose AI models that can cause systemic risk in the future, as well as on high-risk AI systems. It will provide a revised governance system with some enforcement powers at the EU level. 

The Act extends a list of prohibitions but with the possibility to use remote biometric identification by law enforcement authorities in public spaces, subject to safeguards. The agreement also has a provision to provide better protection of rights through the obligation for deployers of high-risk AI systems to conduct a fundamental rights impact assessment before putting an AI system into use.

Under the new rules, A scientific panel of independent experts will advise the AI Office within the Commission about general-purpose AI models. The AI Board, which would comprise member states’ representatives, will remain as a coordination platform and an advisory body to the Commission and will give an important role to member states on the implementation of the regulation, including the design of codes of practice for foundation models. 

The legislation also includes penalty provisions for infringements, based on either the offending company’s global annual revenue from the previous fiscal year or a fixed sum. 

For transgressions involving prohibited AI applications, the fines are €35 million or 7% of annual turnover, €15 million or 3% for breaches of the AI Act’s requirements, and €7.5 million or 1.5% for providing false information.

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