Parliament and Council negotiators of the European Union reached a provisional agreement on the Artificial Intelligence Act. This regulation, a pioneering move in the field of AI, is designed to safeguard fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law, and environmental sustainability against the potential risks posed by high-risk AI technologies.
Simultaneously, it aims to boost innovation and position Europe as a leader in AI development. The Act establishes a framework of obligations for AI systems, categorizing them based on their potential risks and levels of impact.
Under this new regulation, several applications of AI that could threaten citizens' rights and democracy are set to be banned. These include biometric categorization systems using sensitive characteristics like political or religious beliefs, untargeted scraping of facial images for recognition databases, emotion recognition in workplaces and educational institutions, social scoring based on personal characteristics, AI that manipulates human behavior, and AI used to exploit vulnerabilities due to age, disability, or social situation.
Law Enforcement Exemptions and Sanctions
The Act also addresses the use of biometric identification systems (RBI) in publicly accessible spaces for law enforcement. Negotiators agreed on stringent safeguards and narrow exceptions for RBI, subject to prior judicial authorization and strictly defined crime lists.
“Post-remote” RBI will be used only in targeted searches for individuals convicted or suspected of serious crimes. “Real-time” RBI is to comply with strict conditions, including limited use in time and location, for purposes such as finding abduction victims or preventing specific terrorist threats.
Non-compliance with the new rules could result in substantial fines, ranging from 35 million euros or 7% of global turnover to 7.5 million euros or 1.5% of turnover, depending on the infringement and the size of the company.
Following the deal, co-rapporteur Brando Benifei (S&D, Italy) expressed satisfaction with the outcome, emphasizing the importance of correct implementation and continued vigilance by the Parliament. “Thanks to the European Parliament’s resilience, the world’s first horizontal legislation on artificial intelligence will keep the European promise - ensuring that rights and freedoms are at the centre of the development of this ground-breaking technology,” Benifei said.
Co-rapporteur Dragos Tudorache (Renew, Romania) highlighted the EU's pioneering role in setting robust AI regulations. “The EU is the first in the world to set in place robust regulation on AI, guiding its development and evolution in a human-centric direction," Tudorache noted.
He added that the AI Act would offer strong safeguards for citizens and democracies, support SMEs, and protect vulnerable sectors of the economy.