Shaping the Future: EU's Landmark AI Legislation Unveiled

Amidst global concerns over the ethical and practical implications of artificial intelligence, the European Union took a significant step forward last week as its ministers unanimously approved the adoption of a groundbreaking law

by Sededin Dedovic
Shaping the Future: EU's Landmark AI Legislation Unveiled
© CBS News / Youtube channel

Last week, EU ministers unanimously approved the adoption of a law regulating the use of transformative technology in high-risk situations, such as law enforcement and employment. "The adoption of the Artificial Intelligence Act is a significant milestone for the European Union," said Belgium's Secretary of State for Digitalization Mathieu Michel.

Artificial intelligence is closely monitored globally. More than ten countries and some of the world's largest technology companies gathered last week in Seoul at an AI summit co-hosted by the United Kingdom and South Korea.

They pledged to collaborate against the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, including its ability to evade human control. The EU regulation permits or bans the use of artificial intelligence based on the risk it poses to people and identifies high-risk systems that can only be used if they are proven to respect fundamental rights.

AI systems for biometric categorization based on political, religious, philosophical beliefs, or race and gender will be banned. Also banned will be systems that assess people based on their behavior or personal characteristics or AI capable of manipulating human behavior.

In addition, systems for expanding or creating databases of faces recorded indiscriminately via the internet or audiovisual recordings will be prohibited. However, the regulation allows exceptions, so security forces can use biometric identification cameras, with judicial authorization, to, for example, prevent terrorist threats.

AI-generated content must be labeled

The law requires that content generated using artificial intelligence, such as texts, images, or videos, must be labeled as such, which could help protect viewers from deceptive content like deepfakes.

High-risk systems will need to be certified by approved bodies before being placed on the EU market. A new AI office will oversee the enforcement of the law at the EU level. Non-compliance with the regulation can lead to fines of up to 35 million euros or seven percent of a company's annual revenue, depending on the type of violation.

The European Commission proposed the first draft of the Artificial Intelligence Act in April 2021, when Portugal held the presidency of the EU Council. The Artificial Intelligence Act received the support of the majority of the European Parliament members in March 2024, and after approval by EU ministers, it needs to be signed by the presidents of the EU legislative bodies.

Members of the group Initiative Urheberrecht (authors rights initiative) demonstrate to demand regulation of artificial intellig© Sean Gallup / Getty Images

It will then be published in the Official Journal of the EU and technically become law 20 days later, but its various provisions will come into effect gradually over the next two years.

Since the legislative process is nearing completion, EU member states will have to implement the regulation into their national laws, and representatives of some countries pointed out future challenges during last week's meeting.

"We tried to find a balance between two approaches to allow AI to develop and ensure that, for example, smaller companies are not burdened with bureaucracy, but at the same time, the use of AI in the European environment has its barriers," said Czech Deputy Prime Minister for Digitalization and Minister for Regional Development Ivan Bartoš.

The focus on the implementation process was also emphasized by Slovak State Secretary of the Ministry for Investments, Regional Development, and Informatics Ivan Ivančin, who said that "it presents an opportunity for learning." At the same time, he added, it is important to take concrete steps that will create a solid foundation for further development.

The adoption of the Artificial Intelligence Act was supported by Bulgaria's interim government. The executive director of the Bulgarian Association of Entrepreneurs, Dobromir Ivanov, said the law is "a step in the right direction," but emphasized the importance of observing future actions.

He added that implementation should not be too restrictive or destroy local businesses. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke about the application of artificial intelligence in healthcare during a conference in Athens on the health system and future challenges, emphasizing that it is important to manage AI safely when processing patient data.

Slovenian Minister for Digital Transformation Emilija Stojmenova Duh warned about the lack of AI experts. "At this moment, not only in Slovenia but in Europe in general, we do not have enough qualified experts, so we need to work on that," she stated.

She believes that experts from all member states should participate in the EU regulatory body for artificial intelligence, established by the European Commission. This, she added, will facilitate the implementation of the law in member states.

In Romania, the construction of the first AI research institute began last week at the Technical University in the city of Cluj-Napoca, focusing on developing AI solutions for vital areas such as health, transport, cybersecurity, and others.

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