A Big Week in AI and Tech Policy in Europe – What We’re Watching

The European Union (EU) is gearing up for a big week in tech regulation.  On Wednesday, February 19, the EU will launch central elements of a tech regulatory agenda that will play out over the coming years.  As with privacy, where Europe set the global agenda with its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU is determined to set standards for companies in critical areas like AI and data use.  This will launch a major opportunity for multinational business to engage on potential policy changes that could directly affect their business strategies. 

So, what to watch for in these EU initiatives?

  • A White Paper on a path for new laws and regulations for AI.  The White Paper is expected to contain substantive recommendations for AI regulation, building on extensive work in 2019 to develop an EU framework for ethical use of AI and proposed guidelines for implementation of the framework.  The President of the European Commission, Ursula Van Der Leyen, has committed to action leading toward AI regulation within the first 100 days.  The latest draft of the paper emphasizes a focus on regulating “high risk” applications though it remains to be seen how those will be defined.  And for “high risk” AI, it emphasizes that “it is paramount that EU rules are respected by all actors, regardless whether they are EU based or not.”

  • A European data strategy that is expected to cover ways to increase access to data in the common market - and generally derive greater benefit from data generated within Europe’s border - for example, by facilitating data sharing.  This is part of an effort to ensure that the EU has adequate data to enable innovation in AI.

  • An updated European digital strategy that is expected to include plans to regulate platforms and extend competition rules, and also address the technology sector’s carbon footprint, for example, at data centers. 

These initiatives are touted as having a sweeping scope, and we expect they will have a considerable impact throughout the digital economy.  There will also be opportunities for further industry engagement, particularly on AI policy beginning with a 12-week consultation on the White Paper proposals.  We’ll keep you posted on these important developments as the details are announced.

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